Learning more about the link between PCOS and mental health Karolinska Institutet



IMAGE: Dr. Elisabet Stener-Victorin is a higher lecturer and research group leader at Karolinska Institutet’s Department of Physiology and Pharmacology. eye more

Credit: Mats Rundgren

Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) have dignified levels of androgens in their feelings, which has been assumed able to melt fetal development during pregnancy. An between nations team of researchers led from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden has very lately identified a hormonal mechanism that puissance explain why women with PCOS go proceed a higher risk of developing symptoms of mental ill-health, such as anxiety and gloominess, in adulthood. The results, which are based steady animal studies, are presented in the magazine ‘PNAS‘.

PCOS affects more than the same in ten women of fertile old ~, and is characterised by small follicles public-house one or both ovaries, high levels of testosterone in the royal line and irregular periods. Women with PCOS also have problems with obesity and insulin opposition, which puts them at greater jeopardize of developing type 2 Diabetes. They are also more likely to have mental soundness issues.

“Over 60 per cent of these women are diagnosed by at least one psychiatric symptom, so as anxiety, depression or an catheretic disorder, and suicide is much again common amongst women with PCOS than amongst salutary controls,” says principal investigator Elisabet Stener-Victorin, researcher at the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at Karolinska Institutet.

It is likewise known that daughters of women through PCOS are more likely to make known the condition, while the sons be directed to have problems with obesity and insulin check. One of the causes has been assumed to be due to the greater in-utero exposure to male hormones (androgens) via the mother’s common ancestry, but the biological mechanism is unclear.

In the largess ‘PNAS‘ study, the researchers get examined what happens when pregnant rats and their fetuses are exposed to outrageous doses of testosterone to mimic the stipulations of pregnant women with PCOS. They studious the impact on the placenta and up~ fetal growth and monitored the issue – of both sexes – to adulthood, which time their behaviour was then tested.

Their results grant that both male and female child exposed to testosterone in a a day after the fair fetal stage display a higher standing of anxiety-like behaviour as adults than individuals born in normal circumstances. Further experiments allowed the researchers to fix that the testosterone exerts the greatest general on the amygdala, a region of the brain that plays a interest in emotional regulation and behaviour linked to the couple positive and negative emotions.

The cluster found evidence of disturbances in the spryness of the gene regulating the androgen receptor in the amygdale of progeny, and noted changes in the receptors as antidote to a type of oestrogen and in the genes that systematize serotonin and GABA, signal substances in the brain known because of their involvement in the regulation of apprehensive behaviour.

“But when the androgenic and oestrogenic receptors were blocked ~ means of two different drugs, the animals were protected counter to the development of the anxiety-like behaviour in adulthood,” says Dr Stener-Victorin. “Our results indicate a hitherto unknown biological mechanism that have power to help us understand why the daughters and sons of women through PCOS develop anxiety as adults.”


The study in addition involved researchers from the Gothenburg University’s Sahlgren Academy, Heilongjiang University of Chinese Medicine (China), the University of Colorado (USA) and the University of Chile. It was funded by grants from the Swedish Research Council, the Novo Nordisk Foundation, the Jane and Dan Ohlsson Foundation, the Wilhelm and Martina Lundgren Research Foundation, the Hjalmar Svensson Research Foundation, the Adlerbert Research Foundation, the Ragnar Söderberg Research Foundation and the Innovative Team of Science and Technology of Heilongjiang Province Universities.

Publication: ‘Maternal testosterone exposing. increases anxiety-like behavior and impacts the limbic system in the offspring’, Min Hu, Jennifer E Richard, Manuel Maliqueo, Milana Kokosar, Romina Fornes, Anna Benrick, Thomas Jansson, Claes Ohlsson, Xiaoke Wu, Karolina P Skibicka, Elisabet Stener-Victorin, PNAS, online Early Edition the week of November 2, 2015.

Karolinska Institutet – a medicinal university: ki.se/english

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