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E Carmina, E Guastella, R A Longo, G B Rini, and R A Lobo


Muscle mass plays an important role in determining cardiovascular and metabolic risks in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). In addition, whether lean mass influences carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) in PCOS has not been assessed.


Prospective investigation.


Ninety-five women with PCOS were age- and weight-matched to 90 ovulatory controls. All women had dual X-ray absorptiometry for lean, fat and bone mass, and bone mass density (BMD). Serum testosterone, sex hormone-binding globulin, insulin, and glucose and carotid IMT were determined. Free androgen index (FAI) and insulin resistance (by QUICKI) were calculated.


In PCOS, waist circumference and insulin were higher and QUICKI lower than in controls (P<0.01). Trunk fat mass, % trunk fat, and lean mass were higher in PCOS compared to controls (P<0.01), while total bone mass and BMD were similar. IMT was increased in PCOS (P<0.01) but only 15% of PCOS patients had abnormal (≥0.9 mm) values. Lean mass correlated with fat parameters, insulin, QUICKI, and FAI, but not with total testosterone; and after adjustments for insulin and QUICKI, lean mass still correlated with fat mass (P<0.01) but not FAI. Lean mass correlated with IMT (P<0.01), but this was dependent on insulin. However, excluding those patients with abnormal IMT values, IMT correlated with lean mass independently of insulin. Bone mass correlated with lean and fat mass, but not with insulin or androgen. PCOS patients with ‘pathological’ IMT values had higher % trunk fat, lean mass, and insulin, lower QUICKI, and higher testosterone and FAI compared with those with normal IMT.


Lean mass is increased in PCOS, while bone mass is similar to that of matched controls. The major correlates of lean mass are fat mass and insulin but not androgen. Lean mass also correlated with IMT, and although influenced by insulin, small changes in IMT may partially reflect changes in muscle mass, while clearly abnormal values relate to more severe abnormalities of PCOS.

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E Carmina, N Napoli, R A Longo, G B Rini, and R A Lobo

Objective: Metabolic syndrome (MBS) is a common disorder and is thought to be extremely prevalent in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). In the USA the prevalence of MBS in PCOS has been reported to be as high as 43–46% using Adult Treatment Panel III (ATP-III) criteria. Because of differences in diet, lifestyle and genetic factors, we postulated that the prevalence of MBS might not be as high in Italian women. This study sought to determine the prevalence of MBS in Italian women using both the ATP-III and the World Health Organization (WHO) criteria and to determine whether the prevalence is influenced by the way in which PCOS is diagnosed.

Design: Assessment of the prevalence of MBS in 282 women with PCOS, aged 18–40 years, living in western Sicily. Eighty-five age- and weight-matched normal women served as controls.

Methods: Patients were divided into those with chronic anovulation and hyperandrogenism (classic PCOS; n = 225) and others with hyperandrogenism and polycystic ovaries but who were ovulatory (ovulatory PCOS; n = 57). A 75 g oral glucose tolerance test was carried out, as were lipid determinations; insulin resistance was assessed by the Quantitative Insulin-Sensitivity Check Index (QUICKI). We used ATP-III and WHO criteria to diagnose MBS.

Results: Using ATP-III criteria, the prevalence of MBS was 8.2% and using WHO criteria it was 16% in Italian women with PCOS. In controls, the prevalence was 2.4% using both methods. In classic PCOS patients, MBS was higher (8.9% by ATP-III, 17.3% by WHO) than in ovulatory PCOS (5% and 10.6% respectively). Body weight significantly modified prevalence rates.

Conclusion: MBS is substantially higher in women with PCOS than in the general population, and the prevalence is higher in those women diagnosed by classic criteria. However, the prevalence of MBS in PCOS appears to be much lower in Italy than in the USA.