The aim of this study was to determine if there is an association between non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). NAFLD and PCOS are both known to be associated with metabolic syndrome/insulin resistance.
Fourteen consecutive female patients of reproductive age (20-45) either with liver biopsy proven NAFLD (50%) or abdominal ultrasound (US) consistent with steatosis together with elevated ALT levels (50%) were screened for PCOS using 2003 Rotterdam consensus meeting criteria. Other causes of hyperandrogenism were excluded. All subjects underwent relevant questionnaire and clinical exam together with hormonal assays, pelvic (1) or transvaginal US (13) and were screened for evidence of the metabolic syndrome.
Ten out of fourteen women matched 2003 Rotterdam consensus meeting diagnostic criteria for PCOS (71%). Eight women suffered from oligo/amenorrhoea, nine women manifested presence of hyperandrogenism and six had history of infertility. Seven women had evidence of biochemical hyperandrogenism with low SHBG, raised free testosterone and elevation of serum LH concentration. Seven women fulfilled US criteria for PCOS. Three of ten patients with PCOS also had type 2 diabetes mellitus. Women with PCOS and NAFLD had higher triglyceride and cholesterol and lower HDL level than group without PCOS. Five patients with NAFLD and PCOS had documented fibrosis on liver biopsy, indicative of more advanced liver disease.
Despite limitations of the study due to the sample size, we found evidence of PCOS in the majority of subjects with NAFLD. Women with NAFLD should be routinely screened for presence of PCOS, diabetes mellitus and metabolic risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Equally, women with PCOS should be screened for NAFLD. Evaluation for liver disease should be considered at an earlier age in some women with PCOS particularly those with an evidence of metabolic syndrome.