Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
5-15% of all woman within the fertile age are affected by polycystic ovaries (PCOS) mainly because there is no cure. The main tell-tale sign of PCOS is lack of ovulation, leading to irregular periods and increased levels of male hormones. Other symptoms related to PCOS that some woman may experience is excess facial hair and the appearance of cysts on their ovaries.
There are no tests available to diagnose this disease so specialist usually resort to studying the patients clinical/family history followed by a ultrasound scan and blood tests to measure the hormone levels.
PCOS is one of the main causes of infertility therefore woman who have been diagnosed with it are advised to seek professional help if they have not been able to fall pregnant within six months of trying.
The background of the study
IVI Sevilla and Instituto de Investigaciones Químicas have teamed up to carry out a study focusing on the possible causes of polycystic ovary syndrome. The study was led by embryologist Víctor Blasco working with a team of researchers that also included Dr Manuel Fernández, Director of IVI Sevilla, and has already been reported at several national and international conferences.
The participants in the study were made up of 43 patients who had already been diagnosed with PCOS and are currently going through assisted reproductive treatment as well as 46 ‘healthy’ egg donors without PCOS. The women in both groups underwent controlled ovarian stimulation treatment in order to induce multiple ovarian follicles, similar to that any patient goes through prior to egg collection.
These proteins are regulators of the reproductive hormonal axis therefore the team analysed these protein levels as well as their receptors throughout the stimulation process monitoring how they are made, what their role there is, and their possible involvement in PCOS.
The outcome of the study
The research team’s hypothesis was: if the levels of neurokinin B, kisspeptin and/or their receptors was altered in patients with PCOS compared to fertile donors, this could be a genetic factor involved in the occurrence of the disease.
The embryologist at IVI Sevilla then went on to explain: “we analysed the levels of these genes in follicular fluid and we established that they were different in the case of patients with PCOS compared to the non PCOS donors. These anomalous levels may contribute to abnormal follicular development and to the ovulation problems observed in these patients.” In other words, the abnormal levels in neurokinin B and kisspeptin can be a contributing factor to the ovulation problems related to PCOS.
What this means for the reproductive industry
Knowing the cause of PCOS allows scientists to develop a drug that would balance out the proteins and therefore allow for the disease to be corrected. These findings also link to infertility issues such as advanced maternal age, endometriosis and low ovarian reserve.
At IVI we will always strive to achieve breakthrough studies like these in an attempt to always better and improve the pregnancy success rates and make peoples dreams come true.