CONTEXT: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is associated with increased sympathetic nervous system activation, but the cerebral pathways involved are unclear. OBJECTIVE: To compare cerebral [blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) functional MRI], pressor [blood pressure (BP), heart rate (HR], and muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) responses to isometric forearm contraction (IFC) in women with PCOS and matched control subjects. DESIGN: Case-control study. SETTING: Referral center. PARTICIPANTS: Patients with PCOS (n = 20; mean ± SD data: age, 29.8 ± 4.8 years; body mass index (BMI), 26.1 ± 4.9 kg/ m2) and 20 age- and BMI-matched control subjects (age, 29.7 ± 5.0 years; BMI, 26.1 ± 4.8 kg/ m2). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: BP, HR, catecholamine, and MSNA responses to 30% IFC. BOLD signal change was modeled for BP response to 30% IFC. RESULTS: Although HR and BP increased to a similar extent in both groups after IFC, MSNA burst frequency increased by 68% in the PCOS group compared with 11.9% in control subjects (n = 7 in both groups; P = 0.002). Brain activation indexed by the BOLD signal in response to IFC was significantly greater in the PCOS group (n = 15) compared with controls (n = 15) in the right orbitofrontal cortex (P < 0.0001). Adjustment for insulin sensitivity, but not hyperandrogenism, abolished these between-group differences. CONCLUSION: Our study confirms enhanced sympathoexcitation in women with PCOS and demonstrates increased regional brain activation in response to IFC. The right orbitofrontal cortex BOLD signal change in women with PCOS is associated with insulin sensitivity. Additional studies are warranted to clarify whether this may offer a novel target for cardiovascular risk reduction.

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Journal Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Lansdown, A.J. (Andrew J.), Warnert, E.A.H. (Esther A H), Sverrisdóttir, Y. (Yrsa), Wise, R.G. (Richard G.), & Rees, D.A. (D Aled). (2019). Regional Cerebral Activation Accompanies Sympathoexcitation in Women With Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 104(9), 3614–3623. doi:10.1210/jc.2019-00065