Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a chronic dysfunction associated with obesity and metabolic disorders that can be ameliorated by treatment with metformin. Brown adipose tissue (BAT) has been recently identified in adult humans, and irisin is a myokine that induces BAT formation. The aim of this randomized controlled trial was to evaluate whether a short term treatment with metformin alters BAT activity and plasma irisin levels in women with PCOS. The participants were randomly assigned to receive metformin (1500 mg/day, n=21) or placebo (n=24) during 60 days. BAT activity was assessed by F-FDG positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET-CT) and plasma irisin levels were measured by enzyme immunoassay. The groups were similar in age, body measures, metabolic profile and PCOS phenotypes. BAT activity did not change significantly in the women treated with metformin (median Δ SUV=-0.06 g/ml, interquartile interval -2.81 to 0.24 g/ml, p=0.484, Wilcoxon’s test) or placebo (median Δ SUV=0.98 g/ml, interquartile interval -2.94 to 4.60 g/ml, p=0.386). In addition, plasma irisin levels remained unchanged in the groups treated with metformin (median Δ=-98 ng/ml, interquartile interval -366 to 60 ng/ml, p=0.310) and placebo (median Δ=28 ng/ml, interquartile interval -1260 to 215 ng/ml, p=0.650). These results suggest that in PCOS women BAT activity and plasma irisin levels may not change after a brief treatment with metformin.
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