This study explored the mechanisms underlying altered neurobehavioural development of female offspring born to mothers with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
In total, 20 women with PCOS and 32 healthy women who underwent caesarean deliveries with a single female foetus were recruited. Infants were assessed with Dubowitz scoring. Swan71 cell line with stable FOS overexpression was used to verify the regulatory effects of FOS on brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and nerve growth factor (NGF) expression. Learning and memory in female first-generation (F1) and second-generation (F2) offspring in a rat model of PCOS was tested using the Morris water maze at puberty and adulthood. Transcriptome analysis of pubertal hippocampi and hypothalami of female F1 offspring was conducted.
Total score and behaviour subscales of Dubowitz scoring were significantly lower in female infants of women with PCOS. FOS and NGF protein levels were downregulated in placental villi of the PCOS group. FOS played a key role in BDNF inhibition and enhancing NGF in Swan71 cells. PCOS female F1 rats exhibited lower target crossing times during puberty when compared to controls. Transcriptome analysis revealed significant changes in hippocampal and hypothalamic neuronal pathways in female F1 rats at puberty.
FOS regulation of neurotrophins in the placenta negatively affects neurobehavioural development of female offspring of PCOS mothers.
This study was funded by the National Key R&D Program of China (2018YFC1004900 to F.Q. and F.W.) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81874480 to F.Q.; 81873837 to F.W.).

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