Metformin Shows Promise in Preventing Miscarriage in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

BETHESDA, MD — February 27, 2002 — The anti-diabetes drug metformin appears to reduce the likelihood of early miscarriage in women with a common form of female infertility, according to a study funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

The study appears in the February issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

The drug, metformin, increases the body's sensitivity to insulin and is used to treat non-insulin-dependent diabetes. Metformin also has proven successful in treating some of the symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), the most common form of female infertility in which women fail to ovulate.

"This is a very promising lead," said Duane Alexander, MD, Director of the NICHD. The next step is to confirm these results in a larger, randomised trial."

PCOS affects from 5 to 10 percent of American women of reproductive age (as many as five million in all), explained the study's senior author, John E. Nestler, MD, chairman of endocrinology at the Medical College of Virginia at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. Dr. Nestler's group is part of NICHD's Specialized Cooperative Centers Program in Reproduction Research.

The ovaries of women with PCOS appear to be filled with numerous small cysts, Dr. Nestler added. The cyst-like appearance results from an accumulation of immature ovarian follicles, the bubble-like structures which, upon maturation, rupture and release the egg.

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