Journal of Endocrinological Investigation

, Volume 21, Issue 9, pp 602–611 | Cite as

Insights into hypothalamic-pituitary dysfunction in polycystic ovary syndrome

  • Janet E. Hall
  • A. E. Taylor
  • F. J. Hayes
  • W. F. CrowleyJr.
Views on Pathogenetic Mechanisms


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is characterized by menstrual dysfunction and hyperandrogenism in the absence of other known causes. While the pathogenesis of PCOS remains elusive and is likely to involve abnormalities in several systems, there has long been an association of abnormal gonadotropin secretion with this disorder. In recent studies we have determined that 94% of women meeting the broad criteria for PCOS have an increased LH/FSH ratio. Several lines of evidence suggest that the mechanisms underlying the increased LH/FSH ratio in PCOS include an increased frequency of GnRH secretion. Decreased sensitivity to progesterone negative feedback on the GnRH pulse generator may play a role in this neuroendocrine defect. Additional factors which may contribute to the low to normal FSH levels in the face of increased LH include chronic mild estrogen increases and possibly inhibin. In addition to these effects on the differential control of FSH, there is increased pituitary sensitivity of LH secretion to GnRH. Both estrogen and androgens have been proposed as candidates mediating these effects. Superimposed on these underlying abnormalities in gonadotropin secretion is a marked inhibitory effect of obesity on LH secretion which may be mediated at either a pituitary or hypothalamic level.


Luteinizing hormone follicle stimulating hormone gonadotropin-releasing hormone androgens reproduction 


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Copyright information

© Italian Society of Endocrinology (SIE) 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Janet E. Hall
    • 1
  • A. E. Taylor
    • 1
  • F. J. Hayes
    • 1
  • W. F. CrowleyJr.
    • 1
  1. 1.National Center for Infertility Research and Reproductive Endocrine UnitMassachusetts General HospitalBostonUSA

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