Obesity in adolescents is prevalent worldwide. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is often associated with obesity in women, and it has serious metabolic and reproductive health implications. Although PCOS does not become clinically visible until early adolescence, its origins are likely much earlier. Therefore, we reviewed the recent literature regarding the mechanisms linking the development of PCOS and obesity in adolescent girls. We found that excess abdominal adipose tissue (AT) initiates metabolic and endocrine aberrations that are central in the progression of PCOS. As an example, abdominal AT impairs insulin action, which interacts with the progression of hyperandrogenism. In addition, excessive androgen levels lead to impaired glucose uptake, which also contributes to insulin resistance, which again increases the deposition of visceral fat. The body composition is influenced by testosterone, which decreases subcutaneous fat lipolysis and influences adipocyte distribution. These mechanisms may explain why PCOS girls have an increased visceral adipose mass independent of body mass index. Therefore, first-line treatment in adolescent PCOS is often lifestyle intervention to prevent the damaging effects of obesity. Pharmacological treatment of adolescent PCOS is not standardized because the long-term effects in adolescents have not yet been evaluated; therefore, drugs should be prescribed cautiously. Although the complex metabolic interrelationships between obesity and PCOS have yet to be fully understood, the co-occurrence of these conditions in adolescent girls tends to increase the severity of the negative health consequences of each condition.
Hormone Research in Paediatrics, 2012, Vol 78, Issue 5-6, p. 269-78