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Phenotypes and Enviromental Factors: Their Influence in PCOS

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Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a complex syndrome of unclear etiopathogenesis characterized by heterogeneity in phenotypic manifestations. The clinical phenotype of PCOS includes reproductive and hormonal aberrations, namely anovulation and hyperandrogenism, which coexist with metabolic disturbances. Reflecting the crosstalk between the reproductive system and metabolic tissues, obesity not only deteriorates the metabolic profile but also aggravates ovulatory dysfunction and hyperandrogenism.

Although the pathogenesis of PCOS remains unclear, the syndrome appears to involve environmental and genetic components. Starting from early life and extending throughout lifecycle, environmental insults may affect susceptible women who finally demonstrate the clinical phenotype of PCOS.

Diet emerges as the major environmental determinant of PCOS. Overnutrition leading to obesity is widely recognized to have an aggravating impact, while another detrimental dietary factor may be the high content of food in advanced glycated end products (AGEs). Environmental exposure to industrial products, particularly Bisphenol A (BPA), may also exacerbate the clinical course of PCOS. AGEs and BPA may act as endocrine disruptors in the pathogenesis of the syndrome.

PCOS appears to mirror the harmful influence of the modern environment on the reproductive and metabolic balance of inherently predisposed individuals.

Keywords: AGEs; PCOS; adipose tissue; anovulation; diet; endocrine disruptors; environment; hyperandrogenism; ovulatory dysfunction; phenotypes

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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