Women Sought for NIH Study of Infertility Disorder

Researchers investigating role of adrenal hormones in polycystic ovary syndrome

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Young women in the Washington, D.C., area who have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) are encouraged to take part in a study at the National Institutes of Health on the possible role of the adrenal glands in the disorder.

PCOS is the most common cause of female infertility. Women with PCOS have higher than normal levels of hormones known as androgens. Androgens typically control the development of male tissues and organs. In PCOS, high androgen levels are associated with cysts in the ovaries, greatly reduced or missing menstrual periods, and infertility. Women with PCOS also are at risk for diabetes and heart disease.

In some women with PCOS, high androgen levels have been associated with disorders of the adrenal glands. The adrenals are located atop the kidneys. In addition to androgens, the adrenals produce hormones that regulate the body’s response to stress. The researchers will try to determine whether some women with PCOS have abnormalities of the adrenal glands that could be contributing to the disorder.

“This study will allow us to chart adrenal gland function in women with PCOS and see how it compares with that of other women,” said the study’s lead researcher, Evgenia Gourgari, M.D., of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), part of NIH. “We hope that what we learn will lead to new approaches for diagnosing or treating the disorder.”

The study will be conducted by researchers in the NICHD.

To be eligible for the study, women with PCOS must be between 16 and 24 years of age. Study volunteers will be asked to provide blood and urine samples. NIH physicians will evaluate the women free of charge and recommend treatment for PCOS or adrenal disorders, if needed. Depending on the findings from their initial evaluation, study volunteers may need a one-week inpatient stay at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda. In most cases, participants will be reimbursed for their travel expenses.

Women who take part in the study will be asked not to use hormonal contraceptives and certain other drugs that influence hormone levels.

Women interested in participating in the study may contact the NIH Patient Recruitment and Public Liaison Office at 1-(800)-411-1222 or prpl@mail.cc.nih.gov. Additional information about the study is available at http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01313455?term=PCOS&lead=NICHD&rank=6.


About the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)

The NICHD sponsors research on development, before and after birth; maternal, child, and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation. For more information, visit the Institute’s Web site at http://www.nichd.nih.gov/.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH)

NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.

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