Fetal, infant, adolescent and adult phenotypes of polycystic ovary syndrome in prenatally androgenized female rhesus monkeys

David H. Abbott, Alice F Tarantal, Daniel A. Dumesic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

130 Scopus citations


Old World monkeys provide naturally occurring and experimentally induced phenotypes closely resembling the highly prevalent polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in women. In particular, experimentally induced fetal androgen excess in female rhesus monkeys produces a comprehensive adult PCOS-like phenotype that includes both reproductive and metabolic dysfunction found in PCOS women. Such a reliable experimental approach enables the use of the prenatally androgenized (PA) female rhesus monkey model to (1) examine fetal, infant and adolescent antecedents of adult pathophysiology, gaining valuable insight into early phenotypic expression of PCOS, and (2) to understand adult pathophysiology from a mechanistic perspective. Elevated circulating luteinizing hormone (LH) levels are the earliest indication of reproductive dysfunction in late gestation nonhuman primate fetuses and infants exposed to androgen excess during early (late first to second trimester) gestation. Such early gestation-exposed PA infants also are hyperandrogenic, with both LH hypersecretion and hyperandrogenism persisting in early gestation-exposed PA adults. Similarly, subtle metabolic abnormalities appearing in young nonhuman primate infants and adolescents precede the abdominal adiposity, hyperliplidemia and increased incidence of type 2 diabetes that characterize early gestationexposed PA adults. These new insights into the developmental origins of PCOS, and progression of the pathophysiology from infancy to adulthood, provide opportunities for clinical intervention to ameliorate the PCOS phenotype thus providing a preventive health-care approach to PCOS-related abnormalities. For example, PCOS-like traits in PA monkeys, as in PCOS women, can improve with better insulin-glucose homeostasis, suggesting that lifestyle interventions preventing increased adiposity in adolescent daughters of PCOS mothers also may reduce their risk of acquiring many PCOS-related metabolic abnormalities in adulthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)776-784
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Primatology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2009


  • Androgen excess
  • Anovulation
  • Fetal programming
  • Insulin resistance
  • LH hypersecretion
  • Obesity
  • PCOS-associated male phenotype

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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