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Approved Research

Cardio-metabolic risk, body composition and cardio-metabolic events in women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Principal Investigator: Daniel Cuthbertson
Approved Research ID: 74170
Approval date: January 12th 2022

Lay summary

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common disease which is linked with multiple health conditions including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, liver disease and heart disease. By using UK biobank data this project aims to assess the key mechanisms whereby PCOS may contribute to serious health conditions. This will be achieved by assessing body fat distribution via imaging, blood markers of health, exercise level via activity monitors and heart function via ultrasound. Previous imaging studies have demonstrated that in women with PCOS abdominal fat is important in the development of diabetes and heart disease. These studies were small and, in most cases, did not use MRI which is the best measure of body composition. UK biobank presents a unique opportunity to assess the relationship between body composition and PCOS. This may help identify new ways by which the disease develops and progresses to more serious conditions. Assessment of exercise data will allow us to understand whether women with PCOS are less active and if this relates to long term health. Measurement of common blood markers and assessment of liver scans will help delineate whether women with PCOS have poorer liver health. Finally, assessment of the development of heart attacks and strokes will help us understand whether women with PCOS are at greater risk of developing these serious health conditions. Overall, this study is vital as there is currently no large-scale data assessing the relationship between PCOS and these markers of health.

This project will last from August 2021 until ~ August 2022.

This project has considerable potential to improve PCOS prevention and treatment. By identifying the diseases associated with PCOS this will allow for updated public health strategies in the prevention of the disease. For instance, if we associate physical activity level with the development of heart attacks, this will help inform the importance of staying physically active to protect heart health in women with PCOS. Additionally, by identifying diseases closely associated with PCOS this may help in the development of new therapeutic measures to combat the disease's long-term health consequences.