Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
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Increased microRNA levels in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome but without insulin resistance: a pilot prospective study

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-10-24, 16:00 authored by Alexandra ButlerAlexandra Butler, Vimal Ramachandran, Thomas Keith Cunningham, Rhiannon David, Nigel J Gooderham, Manasi Benurwar, Soha R Dargham, Shahina Hayat, Thozhukat Sathyapalan, S Hani Najafi-Shoushtari, Stephen AtkinStephen Atkin

Background: Small noncoding microRNA (miRNA) have regulatory functions in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) that differ to those in women without PCOS. However, little is known about miRNA expression in women with PCOS who are not insulin resistant (IR).

Methods: Circulating miRNAs were measured using quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) in 24 non-obese BMI and age matched women with PCOS and 24 control women. A miRNA data set was used to determine miRNA levels.

Results: Women with PCOS showed a higher free androgen index (FAI) and anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) but IR did not differ. Four miRNAs (miR-1260a, miR-18b-5p, miR-424-5p, and miR let-7b-3p) differed between control and PCOS women that passed the false discovery rate (FDR) out of a total of 177 circulating miRNAs that were detected. MiRNA let-7b-3p correlated with AMH in PCOS (p < 0.05). When the groups were combined, miR-1260a correlated with FAI and let-7b-3p correlated with body mass index (BMI) (p < 0.05). There was no correlation to androgen levels. Ingenuity pathway analysis showed that nine of the top 10 miRNAs reported were associated with inflammatory pathways.

Conclusion: When IR did not differ between PCOS and control women, only four miRNA differed significantly suggesting that IR may be a driver for many of the miRNA changes reported. Let-7b-3p was related to AMH in PCOS, and to BMI as a group, whilst miR-1260a correlated with FAI. Androgen levels, however, had no effect upon circulating miRNA profiles. The expressed miRNAs were associated with the inflammatory pathway involving TNF and IL6.



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Published Citation

Butler AE. et al. Increased microRNA levels in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome but without insulin resistance: a pilot prospective study. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2020;11:571357.

Publication Date

30 September 2020

PubMed ID



  • RCSI Bahrain


Frontiers Research Foundation


  • Published Version (Version of Record)