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Hormone Test May Reduce Rate of Teens Misdiagnosed with PCOS

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 19 Sep 2016
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Image: Researchers in Greece found the hormone irisin may help improve decrease diagnosis of PCOS in teenagers, and may prove to be an effective target for treatment (Photo courtesy of Alexander Raths / Shutterstock).
Image: Researchers in Greece found the hormone irisin may help improve decrease diagnosis of PCOS in teenagers, and may prove to be an effective target for treatment (Photo courtesy of Alexander Raths / Shutterstock).
Measuring blood levels of the recently discovered hormone irisin may improve accurate diagnosis rates of teenagers with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and so reduce the number of unnecessary treatments prescribed to healthy girls at an especially critical stage in their lives.

Doctors are cautious when diagnosing PCOS in teenagers because the symptoms can be confused with normal pubertal changes. Women with PCOS are more likely to suffer from irregular periods, have excessive levels of male hormones, and may have difficulty in conceiving due to irregularities in the ovaries. The cause of PCOS is unknown and there is currently no cure. Studies have associated high levels of irisin, which is released from muscles and regulates energy metabolism, with PCOS in adults.

In the new study, researchers from Aghia Sophia Children's Hospital (Athens, Greece) compared the hormones of 23 teenagers with PCOS with 17 healthy teenagers of the same age and BMI. They found that the teens with PCOS had significantly higher irisin levels compared to the healthy control group, and that this was associated with higher levels of the male sex hormone testosterone, a key marker of PCOS.

The findings suggest that irisin could be a marker for PCOS, enabling the condition to be diagnosed more easily. "Teenagers who get an early diagnosis of PCOS can sooner start to deal with the physical and psychological symptoms caused by this lifelong condition," said lead researcher Dr. Flora Bacopoulou, "Whether it's through counseling or medication, girls can manage their symptoms and decrease the risk of further complications such as fertility problems, hirsutism (excessive hair growth), and type-2 diabetes."

The group will next focus on confirming their results and investigate the biological role of irisin in PCOS. "If high irisin levels in teenagers with PCOS is established, this could lead to the development of treatments for PCOS. Lifestyle changes and different exercise-related signals that regulate the secretion of irisin could provide a potential option for the management of PCOS. The potential of irisin as a meaningful drug target in PCOS is very promising," said Dr. Bacopoulou.

The study was presented September 11, 2016, at the 55th Annual European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology Meeting (Paris, France, September 10-12).

Related Links:
Aghia Sophia Children's Hospital


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