Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism vol:20 issue:9 pages:418-423
The most prevalent phenotypes of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are characterized by insulin resistance and androgen excess. The adipose tissue (AT) expandability hypothesis explains the development of insulin resistance in obesity and in cases of AT deficit. In line with this hypothesis, we propose that hyperinsulinemic androgen excess in PCOS is often underpinned by exhaustion of the capacity to expand subcutaneous AT in a metabolically safe way. Such exhaustion might occur when a positive energy imbalance meets a normal fat-storage capacity and/or when a normal energy balance faces a low fat storage capacity. This concept thus explains how PCOS phenotypes might result from obesity, prenatal growth restraint or a genetic lipodystrophy, or, experimentally, from prenatal androgen excess.