Racial and ethnic differences in the metabolic response of polycystic ovary syndrome

Academic Article


  • Context: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a highly prevalent disorder associated with insulin resistance (IR) and compensatory hyperinsulinemia. Although variations in cardiometabolic risks across race and ethnicities have been reported in the general population, racial/ethnic disparities in the metabolic dysfunction of PCOS remain relatively unstudied. Objectives: To determine whether markers of metabolic function differ in nondiabetic Asian American (AS), African American (AA), Hispanic White (HW), compared to non-Hispanic White (NHW) women with PCOS. Design and Setting: Prospective cross-sectional study in a tertiary institution. Participants and Interventions: A total of 259 nondiabetic women with PCOS (by NIH 1990 criteria) who completed a 2-hour 75-g oral glucose tolerance test measuring plasma glucose and insulin levels. Basal IR and insulin secretion, assessed by the homeostasis model assessment (HOMA-IR and HOMA-β%, respectively), and two-hour hyperglycaemia and hyperinsulinemia after an oral glucose load, were compared in 21 AS, 24 AA, 53 HW and 161 NHW consecutive nondiabetic adult PCOS women. Results: After adjusting for age and body mass index, HW and AA PCOS women demonstrated higher fasting and post-glucose challenge insulin levels, and higher HOMA-IR and HOMA-β%, than NHW women, although glucose levels were similar. In contrast, AS PCOS women had or tended to have lower HOMA-β% than any other racial/ethnic groups, lower HOMA-IR, and fasting and post-challenge insulin levels than AA or HW, and also had higher (albeit still normal) mean post-challenge glucose levels than NHW women with PCOS despite similar HOMA-IR, and fasting insulin and post-challenge insulin levels. Waist-hip ratio was similar across the four groups. Conclusion: Both HW and AA women with PCOS have increased basal state IR and higher β-cell response, and post-challenge hyperinsulinemia compared to NHW and AS subjects. The trend towards a lesser insulin response among Asian women requires further investigation. These findings suggest that the screening and management of metabolic dysfunction in PCOS should consider patients’ race/ethnicity.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Ezeh U; Ida Chen YD; Azziz R
  • Start Page

  • 163
  • End Page

  • 172
  • Volume

  • 93
  • Issue

  • 2