Context. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is associated with increased obesity with a greater propensity to weight gain and a lack of sustainable lifestyle interventions. Altered brown adipose tissue (BAT) thermogenesis is a potential contributor to obesity in PCOS. BAT activity and modulation has not been studied in PCOS.
Objective. This observational study explored BAT thermogenesis and its associations in women with and without PCOS.
Design. A cross sectional sub-study nested within a randomized control trial
Setting. Community recruitment
Patients or other participants. Pre-menopausal women with (n=47, Rotterdam diagnostic criteria) and without (n=11) PCOS
Main outcome measure(s). Cutaneous temperature recorded from supraclavicular (indicator of BAT activity) and upper arm regions using Dataloggers (SubCue, Calgary, Canada)
Results. Complete temperature data were available in 44 PCOS (mean age: 30.0±6.2, mean BMI: 29.3±5.5) and 11 non-PCOS (mean age: 33.0±7.0, mean BMI: 25±3) women. Women with PCOS had lower supraclavicular skin temperature compared to controls overall (33.9±0.7 vs 34.5±1, p < 0.05) and during sleep (34.5±0.6 vs 35.2±0.9, p < 0.001). In the PCOS group, supraclavicular skin temperature overall and over sleep and waking hours correlated inversely with testosterone (r= - 0.41 p <0.05, r= -0.485 p <0.01 and r= -0.450 p <0.01 respectively). Testosterone levels explained approximately 15%, 30% and 20% of the variability in supraclavicular skin temperature overall and over sleep and waking hours in women with PCOS, respectively.
Conclusion. Women with PCOS have lower BAT activity compared to controls. BAT thermogenesis is negatively associated with androgen levels in PCOS.