Phenotype and Genotype in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Richard S. Legro, Richard Spielman, Margrit Urbanek, Deborah Driscoll, Jerome F. Strauss, Andrea Dunaif

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

125 Scopus citations


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common disorder in premenopausal women and is characterized by hyperandrogenic chronic anovulation. The cause is unknown. PCOS is associated with significant insulin resistance as well as with defects in insulin secretion. These abnormalities place these women at substantial risk for developing type 2 diabetes mellitus. A defect in insulin-mediated receptor autophosphorylation has been found in a substantial proportion of PCOS women. Both PCOS and the insulin resistance that accompanies it appear to have major genetic components. Family studies of PCOS have supported this, although they suffer from incomplete phenotyping of probands and first-degree relatives. The phenotype in males and nonreproductive age females is uncertain. Despite the shortcomings of the family studies of PCOS, they have consistently indicated familial clustering and suggested that the mode of inheritance is dominant. Our initial studies of 50 families of PCOS probands indicate that 24% of sisters are affected with PCOS. There also appears to be an intermediate phenotype of sisters with regular menstrual cycles who are hyperandrogenic per se (22% of sisters). Additionally, there appears to be a major familial defect, with 50% of first-degree relatives having glucose intolerance (impaired glucose tolerance by oral glucose tolerance test or type 2 diabetes melllitus). These findings suggest that hyperandrogenism in females and glucose intolerance may be genetic traits in PCOS kindreds. Systematic phenotyping will allow assignment of affected status for eventual linkage analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-256
Number of pages40
JournalRecent Progress in Hormone Research
StatePublished - 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology


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