Key to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome in the brain, not just the ovaries

|, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, Prof Dev|Key to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome in the brain, not just the ovaries

Key to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome in the brain, not just the ovaries

Up to one in five women worldwide suffer from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), and must juggle various treatments that take care of the symptoms, but not the cause, which is unknown. University of  New South Wales researchers now have an understanding of a new mechanism underlying PCOS, which causes hormonal, reproductive and metabolic illnesses. CREPCOS researcher Dr Kirsty Walters, lead author on this exciting research, tells us about her findings.

Dr Kirsty Walters of the School of Women’s and Children’s Health is lead author of a paper published in the journal PNAS, which clears up the confusion about whether PCOS does in fact originate in the ovary or elsewhere. The work on animal models was conducted at the ANZAC Research Institute.

Dr Walters found that androgens – or steroid hormones – in the brain play an unexpected but crucial role in the development of PCOS.  “For the first time we have a new direction of where we should be looking to try and develop treatments that will treat the cause of PCOS, the androgen excess in the ovary but also in the brain,” she says.

Women with PCOS have difficulty ovulating and develop large cysts in their ovaries. They have irregular hormonal function and can suffer infertility, which usually means they turn to IVF in order to conceive, which is invasive and expensive.

Along with these reproductive issues, the majority of women with PCOS also have obesity, and a high risk of Type 2 diabetes and risk of cardiovascular disease. Many women with the condition seek medical support to deal with unwanted hair growth on the face and chest. Women with PCOS also suffer depression and poor quality of life.

“I’m optimistic about this new research direction, developing new treatments gives women with PCOS encouragement that we’re making headway in the search for a cause,” Dr Walters said.


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