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We have found evidence for the involvement of two major genes in the aetiology of PCOS. The results of both linkage and association studies suggest that CYP11a (coding for P450 cholesterol side chain cleavage) and the insulin VNTR regulatory polymorphism are important genes in the aetiology of PCOS and may explain, in part, the heterogeneity of the syndrome. Differences in expression of CYP11a could account for variation in androgen production in women who have polycystic ovaries and those subjects who are homozygous for III alleles at the insulin gene VNTR locus are more likely to be hyperinsulinaemic. It is likely that other genes are involved in the aetiology of PCOS. Recent results lend weight to the idea that PCOS represents a complex trait in which several genes--but perhaps a relatively small number of key genes--contribute, in conjunction with nutritional factors, to the observed clinical and biochemical heterogeneity.

Original publication




Conference paper

Publication Date





123 - 128


Androgens, Cholesterol Side-Chain Cleavage Enzyme, Female, Humans, Insulin, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, Receptor, Insulin, Steroid 17-alpha-Hydroxylase