A recent study out of the University of California San Diego School of Medicine found that a healthy microbiome plays a part in alleviating symptoms of PCOS.
The research team induced PCOS in female mice by giving them letrozole, an aromatase inhibitor. Put simply, this blocked the conversion of testosterone to estrogen, resulting in elevated testosterone levels as well as other hallmarks of PCOS. A control group received treatment with a placebo.
For five weeks the mice were co-housed in three different arrangements in an effort exposure them to each other's gut microbiome: PCOS mice together, placebo-treated mice together and mice from both treatment groups together.
In the PCOS mice that lived with the placebo-treated mice, the researchers recorded substantially improved testosterone levels, normalised cycles and ovulation. In addition, they lost weight, had lower fasting blood sugar and insulin levels and less insulin resistance (a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes) at the end of the trial. These factors were all linked to changes in their gut microbiome.
"Our new results suggest that altering the gut microbiome via prebiotic or probiotic therapies may be a potential treatment option for PCOS," the study's lead author, Dr Varykina Thackray said.
"Additional research is needed to understand how specific gut bacteria contribute to PCOS and whether the gut microbiome offers potential avenues for treating the condition.”