, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 488–497 | Cite as

The bencfit-to-risk ratio of common treatments in PCOS: effect of oral contraceptives versus metformin on atherogenic markers

  • Charikleia Christakou
  • Anastasios Kollias
  • Christina Piperi
  • Ilias Katsikis
  • Dimitrios Panidis
  • Evanthia Diamanti-Kandarakis
Research paper



To compare the effects of oral contraceptives (OCPs) and metformin on atherogenic markers, including serum levels of advanced glycated end products (AGEs) and C-reactive protein (CRP), in lean women (Body Mass Index below 25 kg/m2) with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), defined by NIH criteria.


Prospective open-label study


One hundred and twenty women with PCOS were treated for 6 months with one of the following treatments: ethinylestradiol plus cyproterone acetate (OCP 1, n=40) or ethinylestradiol plus drospirenone (OCP2, n = 40) or metformin (MET, n=40). The three groups were age and BMI-matched (mean age: 22 ± 0.56 yrs in group OCP1; 23.24 ± 0.64 yrs in group OCP2; 21.50 ± 0.53 yrs in group MET; mean BMI 21.80 ± 0.35 kg/m2 in group OCP1; 22.37 ± 0.48 kg/m2 in group OCP2; 23.03 ± 0.67 kg/m2 in group MET). At 6 months serum AGEs were decreased in group OCP1 (P=0.005) and group MET (P=0.001), whereas these were marginally decreased in group OCP2 (P=0.069). Treatment with metformin was associated with a greater percent decrease of AGEs. CRP was decreased with metformin (P < 0.001), but was increased with OCPs (P<0.001).


This study evaluates common therapeutic options in women with PCOS by reconsidering and prioritizing the goals of treatment. OCPs and metformin appear to have differential effects on atherogenic molecules in lean PCOS patients, but metformin was superior in reducing serum AGEs and CRP. Clinicians should individualize the benefit-to-risk ratio of pharmaceutical intervention in women with PCOS in order to choose the formulation with the greatest overall efficacy as well as safety in terms of cardiovascular risk.

Key Words

Atherogenic markers Metformin Oral contraceptives Polycystic ovary syndrome 


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Copyright information

© Hellenic Endocrine Society 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charikleia Christakou
    • 1
  • Anastasios Kollias
    • 1
  • Christina Piperi
    • 2
  • Ilias Katsikis
    • 3
  • Dimitrios Panidis
    • 3
  • Evanthia Diamanti-Kandarakis
    • 1
  1. 1.Endocrine Unit, Third Department of Internal Medicine‘Sotiria’ HospitalAthensGreece
  2. 2.Department of Biological Chemistry, Medical SchoolUniversity of AthensAthensGreece
  3. 3.Division of Endocrinology and Human Reproduction, Second Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Medical SchoolAristotle University of ThessalonikiThessalonikiGreece

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