Dysregulation of cytochrome P450c17α as the cause of polycystic ovarian syndrome

R. L. Rosenfield*, R. B. Barnes, J. F. Cara, A. W. Lucky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

275 Scopus citations


Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) appears to be due to a previously unrecognized type of steroidogenic abnormality, one in which hyperandrogenism arises from a regulatory abnormality (dysregulation) rather than from enzyme deficiency. It appears that PCOS typically arises from masculinized regulation of the androgen-forming enzyme (cytochrome P450c17α) within ovarian thecal cells. This may arise by either excessive stimulation by luteinizing hormone (LH) or by escape from desensitization to LH. We review evidence which is compatible with the concept that the latter situation may result from an intrinsic intraovarian flaw in the paracrine feedback mechanism by which thecal androgen biosynthesis is inhibited and that coexistent adrenal 17-ketosteroid hyper-responsiveness to corticotropin (ACTH) may be due to a similar type of dysregulation of adrenocortical P450c17α.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)785-791
Number of pages7
JournalFertility and Sterility
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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