Hyperandrogenism by Liquid Chromatography Tandem Mass Spectrometry in PCOS: Focus on Testosterone and Androstenedione

Giorgia Grassi, Elisa Polledri, Silvia Fustinoni, Iacopo Chiodini, Ferruccio Ceriotti, Simona D'Agostino, Francesca Filippi, Edgardo Somigliana, Giovanna Mantovani, Maura Arosio, Valentina Morelli

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The identification of hyperandrogenism in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is concerning because of the poor accuracy of the androgen immunoassays (IA) and controversies regarding which androgens should be measured. The aim of our study was to evaluate the impact of the assessment of testosterone (T) and androstenedione (A) by liquid chromatography in tandem with mass spectrometry (LC/MS-MS), in the diagnosis of PCOS. We evaluated 131 patients referred for suspected PCOS. Fourteen patients in total were excluded, some because of other diagnosis (n = 7) or incomplete diagnostic workup (n = 7). We measured T and A both by IA and LC-MS/MS in the 117 subjects included. We calculated free T (fT) by the Vermeulen formula and recorded clinical and metabolic data. 73 healthy females served as controls to derive immunoassays (IA) and LC-MS/MS reference intervals for T, fT and A. PCOS was confirmed in 90 subjects by IA and in 93 (+3.3%) by LC-MS/MS. The prevalence of biochemical hyperandrogenism in PCOS by LC-MS/MS increased from 81.7% to 89.2% if A was also considered. The most frequently elevated androgens were fT (73.1%) and A (64.5%) and they had similar levels of accuracy in differentiating PCOS and controls (0.34 ng/dL, Sn 91% Sp 89%; 1.16 ng/mL, Sn 91% Sp 88%, respectively). Free testosterone correlated with body mass index (BMI), homeostatic model assessment (HOMA)-index, glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c), and sex-binding globulin (SHBG). The results confirm that LC-MS/MS is slightly more sensitive than IA in the diagnosis of PCOS with LC-MS/MS detecting higher levels of fT and A. Moreover, assessment of fT and A by LC-MS/MS had a similar level of accuracy in discriminating between PCOs and control subjects. Lastly, fT by LC-MS/MS correlates with adverse metabolic parameters.

Original languageEnglish
Article number119
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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