Pituitary-ovarian responses to nafarelin testing in the polycystic ovary syndrome.N Engl J Med. 1989 Mar 02; 320(9):559-65.NEJM
To investigate the basis of polycystic ovary syndrome, we examined the responses of patients to nafarelin, a specific gonadotropin-releasing-hormone agonist, given to stimulate pituitary and gonadal secretion. We compared 16 normal women in the follicular phase, 5 normal men, 8 women with polycystic ovary syndrome, and 1 woman with polycystic ovary syndrome caused by a 3 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase deficiency. After 100 micrograms of nafarelin was given subcutaneously, serum follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone increased rapidly to peak levels within four hours. The women with polycystic ovary syndrome had a pattern similar to that of the men, with greater early luteinizing-hormone responses (30 minutes to 1 hour) and lower peak follicle-stimulating-hormone responses than normal women (P less than 0.05). Patients with polycystic ovary syndrome responded to gonadotropin stimulation with normal to increased production of plasma estrogens and increased levels of androstenedione at 16 to 24 hours (P less than 0.05). Elevated production of 17 alpha-hydroxyprogesterone was found in all the women with polycystic ovary syndrome and in the men. These abnormal responses were unchanged by pretreatment with dexamethasone to suppress adrenal function. In the patient with the 3 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase deficiency, both basal and stimulated plasma levels of delta 5-3 beta-hydroxysteroids before the enzymatic block were elevated, whereas plasma levels of 17 alpha-hydroxyprogesterone and androstenedione--the steroids immediately beyond the block--were low. We conclude that women with polycystic ovary syndrome have masculinized pituitary and ovarian responses to stimulation by nafarelin. Our findings suggest that the regulation of the ovarian 17-hydroxylase and C-17,20-lyase activities is abnormal in such women.