Androsterone glucuronide to dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate ratio is discriminatory for obese Caucasian women with polycystic ovary syndrome

Li Wei Cho, Thozhukat Sathyapalan, Eric S. Kilpatrick, Brian G. Keevil, Adrian G. Miller, Anne M. Coady, Lina Ahmed, Stephen Atkin

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Background: Androsterone glucuronide (ADTG) concentrations have been suggested as a marker of the effects of androgens at the target tissue level. As the mechanism for hyperandrogenemia in obese and nonobese polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) may differ, this study compared the different androgen parameters in non-obese compared to obese women with PCOS, and in normal subjects. Methods: Eleven non-obese and 14 obese women with PCOS were recruited and compared to 11 control women without PCOS. Total testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS), ADTG, and androstenedione were analysed using gold standard tandem mass spectrometry, and the free androgen index (FAI) was calculated. Results: Total testosterone, ADTG and androstendione levels did not differ between non-obese (body mass index (BMI) ≤25 kg/m2) and obese PCOS (BMI >25 kg/m2) but all were significantly higher than for controls (p < 0.01). The ADTG to DHEAS ratio was significantly elevated 39 ± 6 (p < 0.01) in obese PCOS in comparison to non-obese PCOS and controls (28 ± 5 and 29 ± 4, respectively). The free androgen index (FAI) and insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) were significantly higher in obese PCOS compared to non-obese PCOS and controls (p < 0.01). DHEAS was significantly higher in the non-obese versus obese PCOS (p < 0.01). All androgen parameters were significantly lower and sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) significantly higher in normal subjects compared to those with obese and non-obese PCOS. Conclusions: The ADTG:DHEAS ratio was significantly elevated in obese PCOS compared to non-obese PCOS and controls suggesting that this may be a novel biomarker discriminatory for obese PCOS subjects, perhaps being driven by higher hepatic 5α reductase activity increasing ADTG formation in these women.

Original languageEnglish
Article number26
JournalBMC Endocrine Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2017



  • Androsterone glucuronide
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism

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