Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most frustrating conditions that could any woman affect. Thanks to its wide range of symptoms, this reproductive disease can remain undiagnosed for years. Logically, researchers have thought for years that the PCOS begins in the ovaries. However, the latest conducted experiments indicate that things actually might start in the brain.

It’s hard to diagnose PCOS due to changing symptoms, so the exact number of women affected is unknown, but it’s estimated to be about one in every 10 to 15 women. Image credit: PCOS Challenge, Inc.

Polycystic ovary syndrome is a leading cause of woman infertility. As a genetic, hormonal, metabolic and reproductive disorder has a large number of symptoms, thanks to which it is hard to be diagnosed. Most of the symptoms are noticeable from the outward appearance, so the woman affected with PCOS will likely to have: difficulty ovulating, patches of skin on the neck, arms, breast, pelvic pain, facial hair, weight gain, sleep apnea, anxiety and so on.Β It is obvious why it takes years to be diagnosed, but some hints that woman is at high risk to be affected with PCOS, are obesity and having a female family member with the syndrome.

On the other side, treatment methods are quite limited and based on taking the pills for managing hormones and ovulation. It is fundamentally the treatment of individual symptoms without solutions for the entire disorder. Such poorly treatments with already heavy condition finally can lead to whole new complex diseases such as cardiovascular illness, type 2 diabetes, and hormonal dysfunction.

Image Credit: healthinfonet.ecu.edu.au

Researchers from the University of New South Wales in Australia conducted experiments over mice since they have a similar reproductive system as humans. Knowing that the hyperandrogenism is a natural accompaniment of PCOS, although, without knowledge whether it is a cause or consequences of the syndrome, they took the group of mice to solve the dilemma. They split the group of mice into four parts: 1) Mice without androgen receptors in the entire body 2) Mice without androgen receptors in the brain 3) Normal mice and 4) Mice without androgen receptors in their ovaries. Every mouse received a high dose of androgen to trigger polycystic ovary syndrome.

The result was as follows: normal mice developed PCOS, while the rest of group didn’t get the condition. However, mice without androgen receptors in their ovaries, show the signs of PCOS, but with much lower rate of disease development. These results suggest that the action of androgens on the brain is important to the development of PCOS. If we find the way to stop those excess androgens in the brain, it would open possibilities for new and more effective treatments.