Researchers at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (“INSERM”) and Lille University have recently discovered the cause of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or “PCOS” which affects almost 1 in 10 women of childbearing age and is the main cause of female infertility worldwide.

Animal research studies on mice have proven to be very promising. A recent study published in Nature Medicine demonstrated a correspondence between PCOS and prenatal exposure in the uterus to a growth factor known as anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH). This hormone is responsible for a hormonal imbalance in the uterus and thus in female fetuses.

According to scientists, the anti-Mullerian hormone seems to cause over-stimulation of a set of cells in the brain that are directly involved in regulating testosterone levels, thus giving increased testosterone levels in the blood and the uterus. Researchers discovered that pregnant mice treated with AMH have female offspring that later develop the characteristic PCOS symptoms in adulthood. The female fetus has high testosterone levels, which disrupt the ovarian follicles growth mechanism and cause ovulation dysfunction, thus resulting in infertility.

Until now, no preventive or curative treatment for women with PCOS has been available, but researchers may have found a way of treating the disorder. A molecule used for in vitro fertilization (IVF), known as cetrorelix, which regulates the function of the specific brain cells has been successfully used to treat mice suffering from PCOS. A clinical trial could soon be implemented to evaluate its effect on women with this disorder.