Androgen Receptor Activity in Normal and Abnormal Human Ovarian Function [ 2007 - 2009 ]

Also known as: Androgen Receptor Activity in Ovarian Disease

Research Grant

[Cite as]

Researchers: Prof Robert Norman (Principal investigator) ,  Dr Theresa Hickey Prof Wayne Tilley

Brief description Androgens are hormones normally associated with men, but women also produce androgens and they are essential for normal female health and reproduction. Imbalances in female androgen activity could account for approximately 50% of female infertility, but exactly how androgens behave in women is not well understood. Making too much androgen is the most common hormonal problem experienced by women in their reproductive years, and it affects the ovary in a way that can cause infertility. Women with this problem have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Gaining weight increases the chance of having problems with fertility and increases the risk of diabetes and heart problems in women with PCOS. The cause of PCOS is unknown, but it can occur in families, which indicates that some genetic factor is involved. On the other hand, the concept that some women do not produce enough androgen is only beginning to emerge and remains a controversial topic among medical experts. Part of the problem with this notion is that normal female androgen levels are very difficult to measure accurately, so no one can say for certain how much is too little. A recent scientific study in female mice indicates that poor androgen action causes infertility early in life because the ovary is ageing too quickly. A similar thing could possibly occur in women, but this has never been scientifically explored. However, we have some early evidence that shows abnormally low androgen levels in infertile women with signs of early aging in the ovary. Our study aims to understand the role that androgens play in normal and abnormal ovarian function. A large part of this study involves investigation of the androgen receptor, a molecule that controls what androgens can do inside body organs. We think that abnormal activity of this receptor will be involved in ovarian diseases that cause infertility in women. This understanding may lead to new means of diagnosing and treating infertility in women.

Funding Amount $AUD 416,696.74

Funding Scheme NHMRC Project Grants

Notes Standard Project Grant

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