Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
L to R: Peter Smith (AgResearch) and Dr Peter Hurst (University of Otago)
It is hoped that a collaborative study will answer some fundamental questions about a condition that is a leading cause of female infertility and has a negative effect on sheep reproduction.
Peter Smith of AgResearch and Dr Peter Hurst of the University of Otago are using sheep as a model for their research at Invermay farm. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) affects around 10% of women worldwide, and although several treatments are available, all are aimed at keeping symptoms under control. None are able to cure or prevent PCOS as there is little understanding of the key trigger that causes it.
Their theory is that the cause lies in the earliest stages of life, and is driven by the hypothalamus. However the aim of this study is to examine the ovary at a molecular level and identify the changes that happen there.
The offspring of 100 ewes treated with testosterone during pregnancy are being examined for signs of PCOS, compared to lambs from an untreated control flock. It is hoped that links between maternal hormone levels and the condition can then be investigated in more detail, and that this will eventually lead to the development of a preventative treatment and cure.