Approximately 6.1 million women in the United States, aged 15 to 44, have difficulty getting or staying pregnant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A common cause is polycystic ovary syndrome, an incurable disease characterized by high levels of male sex hormones, obesity and infertility.
A research team at the Oregon National Primate Research Center at OHSU in Portland, Oregon, have earned more than $7 million from the National Institutes of Health, to help better understand and address PCOS. Led by Richard Stouffer, Ph.D., the team will work to expand ongoing studies that evaluate the impact of a high-fat diet and elevated testosterone levels on the overall metabolism and reproductive system of female nonhuman primates.
“In addition to better understanding the interaction between hormones and metabolic factors on reproductive health, we expect to determine if their effects are reversible with targeted therapies,” said Stouffer, a professor of reproductive and developmental sciences at the ONPRC and a professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the OHSU School of Medicine. “Further, we hope that our findings will better define the causes, and uncover new treatment options, for women living with polycystic ovary syndrome.”
The grant also recognizes the ONPRC’s unique status as one of only seven National Centers for Translational Research in Reproduction and Infertility in the U.S. A NICHD-sponsored network of centers, NCTRI sites promote collaboration between basic and clinical scientists to establish high-quality research programs, focused on reproductive sciences that can eventually be transitioned to address human medical needs.
The ONPRC-OHSU NCTRI includes a clinical trial of women with polycystic ovary syndrome directed by Dan Dumesic, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology, UCLA Medical School, as well as an innovative outreach core that disseminates information about reproductive health research to local school groups and community members.
Stouffer anticipates the results of all studies, including the clinical trial, will be available by 2022.
OHSU investigators involved with the NCTRI research projects include Stouffer; Ov Slayden, Ph.D., professor of reproductive and developmental sciences, ONPRC, and professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the OHSU School of Medicine; Charles Roberts, Ph.D., associate director, professor of cardiometabolic health and reproductive and developmental sciences, ONPRC, and professor of medicine, pediatrics, and cell, developmental and cancer biology, OHSU School of Medicine; Jon Hennebold, Ph.D., chief of reproductive and developmental sciences, ONPRC, and professor of obstetrics and gynecology, OHSU School of Medicine; Shawn Chavez, Ph.D., assistant professor of reproductive and developmental sciences, ONPRC, and assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and physiology and pharmacology, OHSU School of Medicine; Antonio Frias, M.D., associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, OHSU School of Medicine, and associate professor in reproductive and developmental sciences, ONPRC; and, Leslie Myatt, Ph.D., endowed professor and director of perinatal research, and professor of obstetrics and gynecology, OHSU School of Medicine.