Press Release

PCOS Diagnosis Tied to Inflammation during Pregnancy

May 29, 2014

Heightened immune response could explain increased risk of complications

Washington, DC—Women who have polycystic ovary syndrome – the most common hormone disorder in women of reproductive age – are more likely to experience chronic low-grade inflammation during pregnancy than counterparts who do not have the condition, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).

Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, is a leading cause of infertility. Symptoms can include irregular or absent menstrual periods, infertility, weight gain, acne, excess hair on the face and body, or thinning hair on the scalp. About 5 million women in the United States have PCOS, according to the National Institutes of Health.

“Women who have PCOS often exhibit low-level inflammation,” said one of the study’s authors, Stefano Palomba, MD, of the Arcispedale of Santa Maria Nuova of Reggio Emilia in Reggio Emilia, Italy. “Our research found this state of inflammation worsens during pregnancy.

The prospective controlled clinical study tracked biological markers of inflammation in 150 pregnant women who had PCOS and 150 pregnant women of about the same age and body mass index.

Researchers found expectant mothers with PCOS had significantly higher markers of inflammation, including white blood cell counts and C-reactive protein. Although most women experience a rise in these biomarkers during pregnancy, the increase was larger among women who had PCOS.

“Other studies have identified a connection between inflammation biomarkers and pregnancy complications such as pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes,” Palomba said. “The abnormal inflammation seen in women with PCOS may be a factor in the development of these conditions.”

Other authors of the study include: Angela Falbo, Giuseppe Chiossi and Giovanni Battista La Sala of Arcispedale of Santa Maria Nuova of Reggio Emilia, Italy; Francesco Orio of the University “Parthenope” of Naples and “Ruggi d’Aragona” Hospital of Salerne, Italy; Achille Tolino and Annamaria Colao of the University “Federico II” of Naples, Italy; and Fulvio Zullo of the University “Magna Graecia” of Catanzaro, Italy.

The study, “Low-grade Chronic Inflammation in Pregnant Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Prospective Controlled Clinical Study,” was published online, ahead of print.

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Endocrinologists are at the core of solving the most pressing health problems of our time, from diabetes and obesity to infertility, bone health, and hormone-related cancers. The Endocrine Society is the world’s oldest and largest organization of scientists devoted to hormone research and physicians who care for people with hormone-related conditions.

The Society has more than 18,000 members, including scientists, physicians, educators, nurses and students in 122 countries. To learn more about the Society and the field of endocrinology, visit our site at www.endocrine.org. Follow us on Twitter at @TheEndoSociety and @EndoMedia.


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Colleen Williams Manager, Public Relations Phone: (202)-971-3611 cwilliams@endocrine.org

Jenni Glenn Gingery Associate Director, Communications and Media Relations Phone: (202)-971-3655 jgingery@endocrine.org

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