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.
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.