Molecular progress in infertility: Polycystic ovary syndrome

Richard S. Legro, Jerome F. Strauss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

132 Scopus citations


Objective: To review the evidence that polycystic ovary syndrome is a genetic disease. Design: Review of published literature. Results: The existing literature provides a strong basis for arguing that PCOS clusters in families. However, the mode of inheritance of the disorder is still uncertain, although the majority of studies are consistent with an autosomal dominant pattern, modified perhaps by environmental factors. In addition, studies on PCOS cells (theca, muscle, and adipocytes) in culture have documented a persistent biochemical and molecular phenotype that distinguishes them from normal cells. Although several loci have been proposed as PCOS genes including CYP11A, the insulin gene, and a region near the insulin receptor, the evidence supporting linkage is not overwhelming. The strongest case can be made for the region near the insulin receptor gene, as it has been identified in two separate studies. However, the responsible gene at chromosome 19p13.3 remains to be identified. Association studies have provided a number of potential loci with genetic variants that may create or add to a PCOS phenotype, including Calpain 10, IRS-1 and -2, and SHBG. Conclusions: Collectively, these findings are consistent with the concept that a gene or several genes are linked to PCOS susceptibility. Because the mutations/genotypes associated with PCOS are rare, and their full impact on the phenotype incompletely understood, routine screening of women with PCOS or stigmata of PCOS for these genetic variants is not indicated at this time. Currently the treatment implications for individually identified genetic variants is uncertain and must be addressed on a case by case basis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)569-576
Number of pages8
JournalFertility and sterility
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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