Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a disorder that affects women of reproductive age, is characterised by endocrine and metabolic abnormalities that include hormonal changes, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia and ovulatory dysfunction
Hyperandrogenism, resulting from increased androgen production from the ovaries and adrenal glands, is a characteristic feature of PCOS.
Anti-androgen medications and oral contraceptives are common treatments for women with PCOS. In vitro studies suggest that resveratrol may offer a natural alternative to medications to reduce androgen levels.
Resveratrol is a polyphenol found in grapes, nuts, berries and wine. It is known for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and cardioprotective properties.
Interestingly, studies on isolated ovarian theca-interstitial cells have shown that resveratrol also selectively inhibits ovarian androgen production.
In a double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial, published in 2016 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, researchers evaluated the effects of resveratrol supplementation in women with PCOS.
A total of 30 participants with PCOS, determined by the Rotterdam criteria, completed the trial.
Participants were randomised to resveratrol or a placebo for 3 months. Resveratrol was provided by RevGenetics and provided 1500mg micronised trans-resveratrol orally per day.
The primary outcome measure was serum total testosterone.
Results showed that total testosterone significantly decreased in the resveratrol group (–23.1%; p=0.01) but minimally increased in the placebo group (+2.9%; p=0.78).
The difference between groups was statistically significant. In addition, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S) decreased by 22.2% (p=0.01), fasting insulin decreased by 31.8% (p=.007), and the insulin sensitivity index improved by 66.3% (p=.04) in the resveratrol group but not in the placebo group.
No significant changes were observed in gonadotropin levels, lipid profiles, or markers of inflammation and endothelial function.
Researchers conclude that resveratrol is a viable therapeutic to reduce serum levels of testosterone and DHEA-S in women with PCOS.