The background of the study. The polycystic ovary syndrome is characterized by menstrual disturbances and hyperandrogenemia (excess male hormones), and many of the women have other endocrine disorders. In this study the frequency of thyroid dysfunction and autoimmune thyroiditis was determined in women with the syndrome.
How the study was done. The study subjects were 175 women with the polycystic ovary syndrome (as defined by amenorrhea or oligomenorrhea and clinical [hirsutism or alopecia] or biochemical [high serum testosterone] evidence of androgen excess) and 168 normal women. Serum luteinizing hormone (LH), gonadal steroids, thyrotropin (TSH), free thyroxine, antithyroid peroxidase (anti-TPO) and antithyroglobulin (anti-Tg) antibodies, and insulin sensitivity were measured and thyroid ultrasonography was performed in all women.
The results of the study. As compared with the normal women, the women with the polycystic ovary syndrome were heavier, had higher serum LH and testosterone concentrations, and were more resistant to the action of insulin. They also had higher serum TSH concentrations (2.0 vs. 1.4 mU/L) and higher serum concentrations of anti-TPO antibodies (123 vs. 10 U/L) and anti-Tg antibodies (113 vs. 4 U/L). The frequency of high serum anti-TPO and anti-Tg antibody concentrations also was higher in the women with the polycystic ovary syndrome (27 vs. 8 percent). Thyroid volume was similar in both groups (15 vs. 12 ml), but hypoechogenicity (indicative of autoimmune thyroiditis) was more common in the women with the polycystic ovary syndrome (42 vs. 6 percent.).
The conclusions of the study. Autoimmune thyroid disease, as manifested by high serum antithyroid antibody concentrations and ultrasonographic abnormalities, is more common in women with the polycystic ovary syndrome than in normal women.
The original article. Janssen OE, Mehlmauer N, Hahn S, Offner AH, Gartner R. High prevalence of autoimmune thyroiditis in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome. Eur J Endocrinol 2004;150:363-9.