Glucose Intolerance in a Large Cohort of Mediterranean Women With Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Phenotype and Associated Factors

  1. Alessandra Gambineri,
  2. Carla Pelusi,
  3. Elisa Manicardi,
  4. Valentina Vicennati,
  5. Mauro Cacciari,
  6. Antonio Maria Morselli-Labate,
  7. Uberto Pagotto and
  8. Renato Pasquali
  1. From the Division of Endocrinology, Department of Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology, S. Orsola-Malpighi Hospital, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Renato Pasquali, MD, U.O. di Endocrinologia, Dipartimento di Medicina Interna e Gastroenterologia, Policlinico Sant’ Orsola-Malpighi, via Massarenti 9, 40138 Bologna, Italy. E-mail: renato.pasquali{at}


The aim of this study was to investigate the phenotypic parameters and associated factors characterizing the development of glucose intolerance in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Among the 121 PCOS female subjects from the Mediterranean region, 15.7 and 2.5% displayed impaired glucose tolerance and type 2 diabetes, respectively. These subjects were included in a single group of overweight or obese subjects presenting with glucose intolerance (GI) states. PCOS women with normal glucose tolerance (81.8%) were subdivided into two groups: those who were overweight or obese and those of normal weight. Metabolic and hormonal characteristics of the GI group included significantly higher fasting and glucose-stimulated insulin levels, more severe insulin resistance, hyperandrogenemia, and significantly higher cortisol and androstenedione responses to 1–24 ACTH stimulation. One important finding was that lower birth weight and earlier age of menarche were associated with GI in PCOS women. Frequency of hirsutism, oligomenorrhea, acne, and acanthosis nigricans did not characterize women with GI. Our findings indicate that PCOS patients with GI represent a subgroup with specific clinical and hormonal characteristics. Our observations may have an important impact in preventative and therapeutic strategies.


    • Accepted June 1, 2004.
    • Received November 11, 2003.
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