Hyperandrogenism sensitizes mononuclear cells to promote glucose-induced inflammation in lean reproductive-age women

Frank González, K. Sreekumaran Nair, Janice K. Daniels, Eati Basal, Jill M. Schimke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Hyperandrogenism and chronic low-grade inflammation are related in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), but it is unknown whether hyperandrogenemia can activate inflammation. We determined the effect of oral androgen administration on fasting and glucose-stimulated nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) activation and expression and related markers of inflammation in mononuclear cells (MNC) of lean reproductive-age women. Sixteen lean, ovulatory reproductive-age women were treated with 130 mg of DHEA or placebo (n = 8 each) for 5 days in a randomized, controlled, double-blind fashion. Nuclear activation of NF-κB, p65 and p105 NF-κB subunit RNA, TNFα and IL-1β mRNA, and NF-κB p65 and inhibitory-κB (IκB) protein were quantified from MNC obtained while fasting and 2 h after glucose ingestion, before and after DHEA or placebo administration. Before treatment, subjects receiving DHEA or placebo exhibited no differences in androgens or any inflammatory markers while fasting and after glucose ingestion. Compared with placebo, DHEA administration raised levels of testosterone, androstenedione, and DHEA-S, increased the percent change in fasting and glucose-challenged activated NF-κB, p65, p105, TNFα, and IL-1β RNA and p65 protein, and decreased the percent change in fasting and glucose-challenged IκB protein. We conclude that elevation of circulating androgens to the range observed in PCOS upregulates the NF-κB inflammation pathway in lean reproductive-age women. Thus, hyperandrogenemia activates and sensitizes MNC to glucose in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-306
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2012


  • Androgens
  • Hyperglycemia
  • Nuclear factor-κB

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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