Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate and insulin resistance in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome

Kathleen Brennan, Andy Huang, Ricardo Azziz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Objective: To test the hypothesis that increasing DHEAS levels is associated with improved insulin resistance in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Design: Cross-sectional cohort analysis. Setting: Academic medical center. Patient(s): Three hundred fifty-two women with PCOS. Intervention(s): Patients presenting for evaluation of symptoms related to androgen excess were evaluated physically and biochemically through laboratory analysis. Main Outcome Measure(s): Circulating DHEAS, total T, free T, sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), and 17-hydroxyprogesterone (17-OHP) levels, and calculated homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR). Result(s): Bivariate analysis indicated that all parameters were associated with HOMA-IR, except 17-OHP and age, and confirmed a negative correlation between DHEAS and HOMA-IR. Multivariate analysis indicated that increases in DHEAS, SHBG, 17-OHP, and age were associated with decreasing HOMA-IR, whereas increases in free T, body mass index (BMI), and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) were associated with increasing HOMA-IR. In decreasing order of importance, the following variables predicted insulin resistance: BMI > WHR > age > DHEAS > free T > SHBG > 17-OHP. Conclusion(s): DHEAS is negatively correlated to insulin resistance in patients with PCOS, and in our model ranked just behind other well-established predictors including BMI, WHR, and age. Whether this is due to a direct beneficial effect on insulin action by adrenal androgens such as DHEA, or whether DHEAS simply reflects the circulating levels of hyperinsulinemia, remains to be determined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1848-1852
Number of pages5
JournalFertility and sterility
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • adrenal androgens
  • insulin resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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