The influence of combined oral contraceptives containing drospirenone on hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis activity and glucocorticoid receptor expression and function in women with polycystic ovary syndrome
Macut, Jelica Bjekic
Kotlica, Biljana Kastratovic
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OBJECTIVE: Most women with PCOS have increased adrenal androgen production, enhanced peripheral metabolism of cortisol and elevation in urinary excretion of its metabolites. Increased cortisol clearance in PCOS is followed by a compensatory overdrive of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis. We hypothesized that oral contraceptives containing ethinylestradiol and drospirenone (EE-DRSP) could modulate glucocorticoid receptor (GR) expression and function and thus affect HPA axis activity in PCOS patients. DESIGN: We analyzed 12 women with PCOS (age 24.17 +/- 4.88 years; body mass index 22.05 +/- 3.97 kg/m(2)) treated for 12 months with EE-DRSP and 20 BMI matched controls. In all subjects testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS), sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), cortisol (basal and after dexamethasone), concentrations of GR protein, phospo-GR211 protein, number of GR per cell (B-max) and its equilibrium dissociation constant (K-D) were measured. RESULTS: Before treatment, increased concentrations of testosterone and DHEAS (p<0.001, respectively), unaltered basal cortisol and an increased sensitivity (p<0.05) of the HPA axis to dexamethasone were observed in PCOS women in comparison to controls. After treatment, testosterone (p<0.01), DHEAS (p<0.05) and cortisol suppression after dexamethasone (p<0.01) were decreased in PCOS women. There were no changes in GR protein concentration, GR phosphorylation nor in the receptor functional parameters B-max and K-D in women with PCOS before and after the therapy, and in comparison to controls. CONCLUSIONS: Prolonged treatment with EE-DRSP in PCOS women decreased serum androgens and increased cortisol in the presence of decreased sensitivity of the HPA axis and did not exert changes in GR expression and function.