Can NAC improve the cardiometabolic profile of women with PCOS

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common endocrine disorder in females of reproductive age. PCOS can be described as a complex endocrine condition and is characterised by polycystic ovaries, anovulation, amenorrhoea, hyperandrogenaemia, hirsutism, acne and infertility. All of these characteristics of PCOS affect quality of life and wellbeing.

Metabolic syndrome is diagnosed when any three of the following five risk factors are present: elevated fasting plasma glucose level (hyperglycaemia), elevated triglyceride levels, reduced high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol level, elevated blood pressure, and increased waist circumference.

Additionally, chronic inflammation and oxidative stress have been associated with cardiometabolic syndrome. Women with PCOS have an increased risk of insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, altered cholesterol and triglyceride levels, inflammation, oxidative stress and impaired endothelial dysfunction, which are indicative of cardiometabolic syndrome.

Nutrition plays a major role in the prevention and management of chronic disease, especially cardiometabolic syndrome.

N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is an amino acid that contains a thiol group. NAC has numerous cardioprotective properties, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions, improving lipid profile, as well as decreasing oxidative stress and reducing paracetamol toxicity, along with mucolytic and detoxification properties. NAC is one of the precursors of glutathione, which is an important antioxidant.

PCOS and cardiometabolic syndrome are complex health conditions. NAC shows promise in the management of cardiometabolic parameters in women with PCOS, via reducing insulin resistance, blood glucose levels and improving lipid profile. The dosages used in these trials were 1800 mg per day for 24 weeks and a step-wise dosage up to 1800 mg per day (study length three months).

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