Developmental Programming of PCOS Traits: Insights from the Sheep. Academic Article uri icon


  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a complex disorder that results from a combination of multiple factors, including genetic, epigenetic, and environmental influences. Evidence from clinical and preclinical studies indicates that elevated intrauterine androgen levels increase the susceptibility of the female offspring to develop the PCOS phenotype. Additionally, early postnatal endocrine and metabolic imbalances may act as a "second-hit", which, through activational effects, might unmask or amplify the modifications programmed prenatally, thus culminating in the development of adult disease. Animal models provide unparalleled resources to investigate the effects of prenatal exposure to androgen excess and to elucidate the etiology and progression of disease conditions associated with this occurrence, such as PCOS. In sheep, prenatal treatment with testosterone disrupts the developmental trajectory of the fetus, culminating in adult neuroendocrine, ovarian, and metabolic perturbations that closely resemble those seen in women with PCOS. Our longitudinal studies clearly demonstrate that prenatal exposure to testosterone excess affects both the reproductive and the metabolic systems, leading to a self-perpetuating cycle with defects in one system having an impact on the other. These observations in the sheep suggest that intervention strategies targeting multiple organ systems may be required to prevent the progression of developmentally programmed disorders.

published proceedings

  • Med Sci (Basel)

author list (cited authors)

  • Cardoso, R. C., & Padmanabhan, V.

citation count

  • 24

complete list of authors

  • Cardoso, Rodolfo C||Padmanabhan, Vasantha

publication date

  • January 2019