Although the pathogenesis of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is still controversial, a series of investigations has demonstrated an array of neuroendocrine abnormalities as a major component of the syndrome. From a neuroendocrine perspective, patients with PCOS exhibit an accelerated frequency and/or higher amplitude of LH pulses, augmentation of LH secretory burst mass, and a more disorderly LH release. Elevated in vitro LH bioactivity and a preponderance of basic LH isoforms, which correlate positively with elevated serum 17-hydroxyprogesterone, androstenedione, and testosterone concentrations, also characterize adolescents with PCOS. Heightened GnRH drive of gonadotropin secretion and a steroid-permissive milieu appear to jointly promote elevated secretion of basic LH isoforms. Positive feedback is implied, because hypersecretion of highly bioactive LH in PCOS probably contributes to inordinate androgen output. However, the precise nature of feedback disruption remains uncertain. Indeed, recent data suggest that PCOS is marked by anomalies of both feedforward and feedback signaling between GnRH/LH and ovarian androgens. From a single hormone perspective, the individual patterns of LH and androstenedione release are consistently more irregular in patients with PCOS. Bihormonal analysis has disclosed concomitant uncoupling of the pairwise synchrony of LH and testosterone, LH and androstenedione, and testosterone and androstenedione secretion. The foregoing ensemble of findings points to deterioration of both orderly uniglandular and coordinate bihormonal output in PCOS. Additional studies are needed to establish the primary pathophysiologic mechanisms underlying this disorder.
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