J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2019 07;104(7):2855-2874
Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism, and Molecular Medicine, Department of Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois.
Context: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a highly heritable, common endocrine disorder characterized by hyperandrogenism, irregular menses, and polycystic ovaries. PCOS is often accompanied by elevated levels of anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH). AMH inhibits follicle maturation. AMH also inhibits steroidogenesis through transcriptional repression of CYP17A1. We recently identified 16 rare PCOS-specific pathogenic variants in AMH.
Objective: To test whether additional members of the AMH signaling pathway also contribute to the etiology of PCOS.
Participants/design: Targeted resequencing of coding and regulatory regions of AMH and its specific type 2 receptor, AMHR2, was performed on 608 women affected with PCOS and 142 reproductively normal control women. Prediction tools of deleteriousness and in silico evidence of epigenetic modification were used to prioritize variants for functional evaluation. Dual-luciferase reporter assays and splicing assays were used to measure the impact of genetic variants on function.
Results: We identified 20 additional variants in/near AMH and AMHR2 with significantly reduced signaling activity in in vitro assays. Collectively, from our previous study and as reported herein, we have identified a total of 37 variants with impaired activity in/near AMH and AMHR2 in 41 women affected with PCOS, or 6.7% of our PCOS cohort. Furthermore, no functional variants were observed in the 142 phenotyped controls. The functional variants were significantly associated with PCOS in our cohort of 608 women with PCOS and 142 controls (P = 2.3 × 10-5) and very strongly associated with PCOS relative to a larger non-Finnish European (gnomAD) population-based control cohort (P < 1 × 10-9).
Conclusion: The AMH signaling cascade plays an important role in PCOS etiology.