Roles of different n-3/n-6 PUFA ratios in ovarian cell development and steroidogenesis in PCOS rats
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a complex and common endocrine disorder characterized by hyperandrogenism, which is accompanied by follicle growth arrest at the small antral stage, minimal granulosa cell proliferation, and chronic anovulation. Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are necessary for the body's metabolism, growth and development. Although PUFAs play an important role in the regulation of female reproduction, their role in ovarian development in PCOS is still unclear. The present study was conducted to investigate the effects of different ratios of n-3/n-6 PUFAs (omega-3/omega-6) on ovary development in PCOS rats. Serum levels of reproductive hormones and enzymes related to steroidogenesis were assessed. The results indicated that PUFAs (n-3/n-6: 1/15) significantly increased ovarian weight and improved the ovarian structure although they had no significant effect on body weight in PCOS rats. Meanwhile, apoptosis was attenuated accompanied by increased cell proliferation by PUFAs (n-3/n-6: 1/15). Moreover, serum levels of hormones (FSH and E2) were also significantly increased by PUFAs (n-3/n-6: 1/15) accompanied by decreased T levels. To investigate whether PUFAs regulate the expression of enzymes related to hormone synthesis, western blotting was used to determine the protein levels of CYP51, CYP19, StAR and 3β-HSD. The results showed that PUFAs significantly increased the protein levels of all of these enzymes. These results indicate that PUFAs enhance the reproductive performance of PCOS by increasing the expression of steroidogenesis enzymes, which are related to hormone secretion and ovarian functions. These findings provide evidence that a balanced n-3/n-6 PUFA ratio is beneficial for PCOS reproduction.