Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) was linked with changes in the gut microbiome, a finding that might lead to novel treatments, scientists said.
Women with PCOS had a reduced overall number of bacterial species and lower phylogenic diversity in their gut microbes compared with a healthy control group (P<0.05), said Varykina Thackray, PhD, of the University of California San Diego, and colleagues.
he biodiversity of gut microbes in women with PCOS correlated with hyperandrogenism, the group found. More specifically, it strongly and negatively correlated with total testosterone levels (P=0.006) and hirsutism (P=0.02), Thackray and colleagues reported online in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
Women with polycystic ovarian morphology (PCOM), but not PCOS, had changes in gut microbiome diversity that were intermediate between the control and PCOS groups, Thackray and colleagues said.
In women with PCOS, the relative abundance of Porphyromonas spp., Bacteroides coprophilus, Blautia spp., and Faecalibacterium prausnitzii was consistently higher, while Anaerococcus spp., Odoribacter spp., Roseburia spp., and Ruminococcus bromii were lower, the study found. The four types of bacteria found in lower abundance are all known to synthesize short-chain fatty acids, which are involved in processes such as downregulation of bacterial virulence, maintenance of colonic homeostasis, and anti-inflammatory effects, the study authors said.
The current study confirms the results of two other recent studies, one conducted in Austria and the other in China, that also tied changes in the gut microbiome to PCOS, Thackray and colleagues said.
"Our findings suggest that androgens may be an important factor in shaping the gut microbiome, and that changes in the gut microbiome may influence the development and pathology of PCOS," the study authors wrote. "If hyperandrogenism drives the microbial composition of the gut, it would be interesting to determine if treatment of PCOS with androgen antagonists or oral contraceptives results in recovery of the gut microbiome and improvement of the PCOS metabolic phenotype."