Washington: Early, prolonged treatment with diabetes drug metformin may prevent or delay the development of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a common cause of infertility, in adolescence, according to a new study.
“PCOS often presents in adolescence, with irregular menstrual cycles, acne, or too much body hair,” said lead author Lourdes Ibanez, MD, PhD, professor of pediatrics at the University of Barcelona in Spain.
“But we believe the critical years for PCOS development may be during childhood and puberty when excessive amounts of fat are stored. That excessive weight gain overexposes the ovaries to insulin, causing them to stop ovulating and start releasing male hormones, resulting in PCOS,” she added.
The researchers studied 38 girls with low birth-weight and early puberty and compared the efficacy of early versus late metformin treatment to prevent adolescent PCOS.
A group of 19 8-year-old girls were treated with daily doses of metformin for four years. A second group of 19 girls waited five years before they began receiving daily doses of metformin at age 13 and then continued treatment for only one year.
They found that early metformin therapy prevented or delayed the development of hirsutism, androgen excess and PCOS more effectively than late metformin treatment.
"Metformin, when given across the potentially critical window of puberty, may have the capacity to reprogram metabolism toward less abdominal and liver fat," said Ibanez.
The study has been accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society``s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.