Insulin resistance in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) may increase the risk of reactive hypoglycaemia (RH) and decrease glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) secretion. The possible effects of treatment with oral contraceptives (OCP) and/or metformin on GLP-1 secretion and risk of RH in PCOS is undetermined.
Patients and interventions
Randomized, controlled clinical trial. Ninety women with PCOS were randomized to 12-month treatment with OCP (150 mg desogestrel + 30 mg ethinylestradiol), metformin (2 g/day) or metformin + OCP. Five-hour oral glucose tolerance tests (5-h OGTT) measuring fasting and area under the curve (AUC) for GLP-1, glucose, insulin and C-peptide were performed before and after the intervention period. Sixty-five women completed the study and 34 weight-matched healthy women were included as controls.
Main outcome measures
Changes in GLP-1, glucose, insulin and C-peptide during 5-h OGTT.
Fasting GLP-1 levels increased during metformin + OCP vs OCP treatment, whereas AUC GLP-1 levels were unchanged during medical treatment. The prevalence of reactive hypoglycemia increased from 9/65 to 14/65 after intervention (P < 0.01) and was more common after treatment with metformin + OCP (increase from 3/23 to 6/23, P = 0.01). Reactive hypoglycaemia was associated with higher insulin and C-peptide levels during 5-h OGTT, but was unassociated with BMI and AUC GLP-1. GLP-1 levels were comparable in PCOS vs controls. AUC GLP-1 levels were significantly lower in obese vs lean patients and were inversely associated with BMI.
AUC GLP-1 levels were unchanged during treatment. Increased risk of hypoglycemia during metformin + OCP could be associated with increased insulin secretion.