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International Journal of Reproductive Medicine
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 719050, 17 pages
Review Article

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, Insulin Resistance, and Obesity: Navigating the Pathophysiologic Labyrinth

1Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases Research Center, School of Medicine, University of Zulia, Maracaibo 4004, Venezuela
2Institute of Clinical Immunology, The University of Los Andes, Mérida 5101, Venezuela

Received 1 September 2013; Revised 16 December 2013; Accepted 18 December 2013; Published 28 January 2014

Academic Editor: Daniela Romualdi

Copyright © 2014 Joselyn Rojas et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a highly prevalent endocrine-metabolic disorder that implies various severe consequences to female health, including alarming rates of infertility. Although its exact etiology remains elusive, it is known to feature several hormonal disturbances, including hyperandrogenemia, insulin resistance (IR), and hyperinsulinemia. Insulin appears to disrupt all components of the hypothalamus-hypophysis-ovary axis, and ovarian tissue insulin resistance results in impaired metabolic signaling but intact mitogenic and steroidogenic activity, favoring hyperandrogenemia, which appears to be the main culprit of the clinical picture in PCOS. In turn, androgens may lead back to IR by increasing levels of free fatty acids and modifying muscle tissue composition and functionality, perpetuating this IR-hyperinsulinemia-hyperandrogenemia cycle. Nonobese women with PCOS showcase several differential features, with unique biochemical and hormonal profiles. Nevertheless, lean and obese patients have chronic inflammation mediating the long term cardiometabolic complications and comorbidities observed in women with PCOS, including dyslipidemia, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and cardiovascular disease. Given these severe implications, it is important to thoroughly understand the pathophysiologic interconnections underlying PCOS, in order to provide superior therapeutic strategies and warrant improved quality of life to women with this syndrome.