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Open access

Angela Köninger, Philippos Edimiris, Laura Koch, Antje Enekwe, Claudia Lamina, Sabine Kasimir-Bauer, Rainer Kimmig and Hans Dieplinger

Oxidative stress seems to be present in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). The aim of this study was to evaluate the correlation between characteristics of PCOS and serum concentrations of afamin, a novel binding protein for the antioxidant vitamin E. A total of 85 patients with PCOS and 76 control subjects were investigated in a pilot cross-sectional study design between 2009 and 2013 in the University Hospital of Essen, Germany. Patients with PCOS were diagnosed according to the Rotterdam ESHRE/ASRM-sponsored PCOS Consensus Workshop Group. Afamin and diagnostic parameters of PCOS were determined at early follicular phase. Afamin concentrations were significantly higher in patients with PCOS than in controls (odds ratio (OR) for a 10 mg/ml increase in afamin=1.3, 95% CI=1.08–1.58). This difference vanished in a model adjusting for age, BMI, free testosterone index (FTI), and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) (OR=1.05, 95% CI=0.80–1.38). In patients with PCOS, afamin correlated significantly with homeostatic model assessment-insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), fasting glucose, BMI, FTI, and SHBG (P<0.001), but in a multivariate linear model, only HOMA-IR remained significantly associated with afamin (P=0.001). No correlation was observed between afamin and androgens, LH, FSH, LH/FSH ratio, antral follicle count, ovarian volume, or anti-Müllerian hormone. In conclusion, elevated afamin values may indicate a state of oxidative stress and inflammation, strongly associated with IR and offering an indicator of impaired glucose tolerance in patients with PCOS irrespective of obesity.

Open access

Angela Köninger, Antonella Iannaccone, Ensar Hajder, Mirjam Frank, Boerge Schmidt, Ekkehard Schleussner, Rainer Kimmig, Alexandra Gellhaus and Hans Dieplinger


Patients suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are often insulin resistant and at elevated risk for developing gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). The aim of this study was to explore afamin, which can be determined preconceptionally to indicate patients who will subsequently develop GDM. Serum concentrations of afamin are altered in conditions of oxidative stress like insulin resistance (IR) and correlate with the gold standard of IR determination, the HOMA index.


Afamin serum concentrations and the HOMA index were analyzed post hoc in 63 PCOS patients with live births. Patients were treated at Essen University Hospital, Germany, between 2009 and 2018. Mann–Whitney U test, T test, Spearman’s correlation, linear regression models and receiver-operating characteristic (ROC) analyses were performed for statistical analysis.


Patients who developed GDM showed significantly higher HOMA and serum afamin values before their pregnancy (P < 0.001, respectively). ROCs for afamin concentrations showed an area under the curve of 0.78 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.65–0.90) and of 0.77 (95% CI 0.64–0.89) for the HOMA index. An afamin threshold of 88.6 mg/L distinguished between women who will develop GDM and those who will not with a sensitivity of 79.3% and a specificity of 79.4%. A HOMA index of 2.5 showed a sensitivity of 65.5% and a specificity of 88.2%.


The HOMA index and its surrogate parameter afamin are able to identify pre-pregnant PCOS patients who are at risk to develop GDM. Serum afamin concentrations are independent of fasting status and therefore an easily determinable biomarker.