Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), characterized by the androgen excess and arrest of antral follicles, is a common endocrine disorder among women lacking specific diagnostic biomarkers and therapeutic targets. Herein, we studied the molecular mechanism of miR-96-5p in the process of PCOS and its potential applications in PCOS. Clinically, we found that miR-96-5p significantly decreased in serum, follicular fluid (FF) and primary human granulosa cells (hGCs) of PCOS patients (n=70) vs. non-PCOS women (n=60), as well as in the ovaries of 3-types of induced PCOS-like mice. Furthermore, we demonstrated that the elevated circulating miR-96-5p levels were significantly correlated with the PCOS disordered endocrine clinical features, and the area under the curve of receiver operating characteristic was 0.8344, with 75.71% specificity and 80% sensitivity. Mechanically, we identified miR-96-5p as an androgen-regulated miRNA that directly targets the forkhead transcription factor FOXO1. Inhibition of miR-96-5p decreased estrogen synthesis, while decreasing the cell proliferation index of KGN via regulating the expression of FOXO1 and its downstream genes. Inversely, inhibition of FOXO1 abrogated the effect of miR-96-5p on estrogen synthesis and proliferation index. Of note, ovarian intra-bursal injection of miR-96-5p agomir rescued the phenotypes of dehydroepiandrosterone-induced PCOS like mice. In conclusion, our results clarified a vital role of miR-96-5p in the pathogenesis of PCOS and might serve as a novel diagnostic biomarker and therapeutic target for PCOS.
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