Background: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affects 5-10% of reproductive-aged women and is commonly associated with anovulatory infertility. Leukocytes, together with granulosa cells, may contribute to the pathogenesis of PCOS via their ability to secrete an array of cytokines implicated in follicle growth. The aim of this study was to examine leukocyte subtypes in follicular phase ovaries and to quantify cytokine and chemokine mRNA expression in follicular fluid cells obtained at the time of oocyte retrieval before IVF in women with and without PCOS. Methods: Ovaries were immunostained for various leukocyte markers [CD3, CD4, CD14, CD15, CD45, CD45RA, CD45RO, CD57 and major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II]. In addition, follicular fluid cells were subjected to quantitative RT-PCR to evaluate colony-stimulating factor-1 (CSF-1), granulocyte-macrophage (GM)-CSF, interleukins (IL-1β, IL-6, IL-8 and IL-10), monocyte chemotactic protein (MCP-1) and tumour necrosis factor (TNFα) mRNA expression relative to β-actin. Results: CD45RO+ cells (activated/memory T lymphocytes) were reduced by 60% in the theca layer of follicles from PCOS women. The relative abundance of macrophages and neutrophils was unchanged. Cytokine and chemokine mRNA transcripts examined were not affected by PCOS status. There was an association between high BMI and high TNFα and low IL-6 mRNA expression in follicular cells. IL-6 expression was higher in women who subsequently achieved pregnancy. Conclusions: T lymphocytes potentially play a role in the local pathological mechanisms of PCOS. Further studies are required to identify their contribution to the aetiology of this common condition.
- Follicular fluid