Hyperinsulinemia is associated with menstrual irregularity and altered serum androgens in Pima Indian women
To determine whether hyperinsulinemia is associated with menstrual irregularity or hyperandrogenemia among Pima Indians, a population with a high prevalence of hyperinsulinemia, we retrospectively studied 20 hyperinsulinemic (higher insulin [HI]) and 20 relatively nonhyperinsulinemic (lower insulin [LI]) nondiabetic Pima women 18 to 45 years of age. Reproductive histories were obtained by review of medical records. Stored serum samples were used for measurement of total testosterone, androstenedione, and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) levels. Fifty percent (nine of 18) of HI women had irregular menses, as compared with none of the LI women (0 of 19, P = .0004). HI women were significantly more obese than LI women. Serum testosterone and androstenedione levels were similar in HI and LI women (median testosterone, 1.13 v 1.13 nmol/L, P = .55; median androstenedione, 3.79 v 3.26 nmol/L, P = .90). Serum DHEAS was lower in HI than in LI women (median, 2.85 v 4.55 ??mol/L, P < .01). HI women with irregular menses had significantly higher testosterone levels than HI women with regular menses (median, 1.62 v 0.76, nmol/L, P = .04). Androstenedione and DHEAS levels were not different between these women. In conclusion, the association of obesity, hyperinsulinemia, irregular menstruation, and high testosterone concentration described in the polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCO) also occurs in Pima Indian women. Moreover, low concentrations of DHEAS are associated with hyperinsulinemia in these women.