Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are markedly insulin-resistant, but the molecular mechanisms of these changes and their relationship to the hyperandrogenic state remain to be clarified. Mutations have recently been identified in the insulin receptor gene of patients with extreme forms of insulin resistance associated with hyperandrogenism (eg, type A insulin resistance), and these mutations account for the insulin resistance in such patients. We performed this study to determine whether mutations in the coding portion of the insulin receptor gene were responsible for insulin resistance in PCOS. Insulin binding studies using cultured skin fibroblasts of three obese (body mass index > 27 kg/m2) women with PCOS (ie, mild hyperandrogenemia and chronic anovulation of unknown etiology) and documented insulin resistance showed no apprarent abnormalities in either the number or affinity of insulin binding sites. Direct sequencing of all 22 exons of the insulin receptor gene from two of the women with PCOS did not reveal any mutations. Furthermore, both alleles of the gene were expressed at equal levels. In a third insulin-resistant PCOS woman, there was no evidence for a mutation in the coding portion of the insulin receptor gene as determined by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE). We conclude that the insulin resistance in these PCOS women was caused by a defect extrinsic to the insulin receptor.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism