Study Reveals Link between PCOS and Anxiety

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Researchers reveal link between polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and anxiety, according to a study conducted on March 23, 2018.

A study conducted on mice showed that maternal obesity and excess androgen induces anxiety in the offspring. Due to high levels of male hormones in the blood, menstrual disorders, insulin resistance, and obesity, many women of childbearing age are affected by PCOS. This syndrome was also found to be associated with increased risk of mental illness such as anxiety and depression. Although the exact reason for the occurrence of this syndrome has not been found out, some of the environmental factors such as maternal life or exposure to excess male hormones through mother’s blood are expected to be few major risk factors.

Professor Elisabet Stener-Victorin, who led the study said, “The fact that daughters of women with PCOS are at increased risk of developing the condition and that sons often develop obesity and insulin resistance, indicates that the fetal environment plays a crucial role.” A detailed study was conducted by the researchers using 16 groups of female and male offspring. The effects of factors such as maternal-diet induced obesity and male hormone excess on mice’s behavior were studied by the researchers.

Offspring of both normal-weight and obese pregnant mice that were exposed to androgen dihydrotestosterone were found to have sex-specific, anxiety like behavior. The female mice’s behavior was not affected by HFHS diet that was followed after birth. However, in response to maternal obesity, male offspring developed an anxiety-like behavior. Gene expression present in the brain were also affected by the environmental factors. This study might help in explaining why children born to mothers with PCOS have increased risk of developing anxiety later in life.


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