The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism

Associations between insulin resistance, free fatty acids, and oocyte quality in polycystic ovary syndrome during in vitro fertilization.

PMID 24694334


Both polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and obesity are associated with specific reproductive health complications, including lower oocyte quality and clinical pregnancy rates in assisted conception cycles, which may be a result of metabolism-induced changes in the oocyte through the microenvironment of follicular fluid. Free fatty acids (FFAs) are important biomedical indicators of abnormal lipid metabolism and have pronounced effects on cells, leading to changes in metabolism, cell growth, and differentiation. Our objective was to determine the effect of FFA metabolism in plasma and follicular fluid on oocyte quality in the women with PCOS undergoing in vitro fertilization. Ninety-three women undergoing in vitro fertilization treatment, including 55 with PCOS and 38 age-matched controls, were recruited. PCOS patients were divided into obese and nonobese subgroups on the basis of their body mass index. Embryo quality was morphologically assessed, and serum sex hormone and insulin levels were measured. FFAs in plasma and follicular fluid were measured using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. PCOS was found to be associated with significantly higher LH/FSH, total T, free androgen index (FAI), and lower SHBG levels, independent of obesity(P < .05). Obese women with PCOS had a significantly higher total T level, FAI, fasting insulin, insulin resistance index as determined by homeostasis model assessment for insulin resistance, and lower SHBG levels than the nonobese women with PCOS (P < .05). The embryo fragmentation score was significantly positively correlated with the oleic acid concentration in all PCOS patients (r = 0.22, P = .04, for nonobese patients and r = 0.25, P = .03, for obese patients). Our findings clearly demonstrated that PCOS is associated with significantly higher FAI and insulin resistance levels and decreased plasma SHBG levels, independent of body mass index. Obese PCOS patients had higher palmitoleic acid and oleic acid levels in both the plasma and follicular fluid than did the control subject and nonobese PCOS patients. Our results indicated that developmental competence is associated with oleic and stearic acid concentrations, which may contribute to the poor pregnancy outcomes in patients with PCOS.