|Year : 2021 | Volume
| Issue : 2 | Page : 213-214
Should women with polycystic ovarian syndrome be prioritized to receive the COVID vaccine?
Gynaecworld, The Center for Women's Health and Fertility, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
|Date of Submission||02-Jun-2021|
|Date of Decision||03-Jun-2021|
|Date of Acceptance||03-Jun-2021|
|Date of Web Publication||28-Jun-2021|
Dr. Duru Shah
Gynaecworld, The Center for Women's Health and Fertility, Kwality House, 1st Floor, Kemps Corner, Mumbai - 400 026, Maharashtra
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Shah D. Should women with polycystic ovarian syndrome be prioritized to receive the COVID vaccine?. J Hum Reprod Sci 2021;14:213-4
COVID-19 first manifested as a severe respiratory syndrome caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). However, it is now understood that it can affect vascular, cardiac, gastrointestinal, renal, and central nervous systems apart from respiratory system. Current understanding of the pathophysiology of COVID-19 infection suggests that the expression of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptors facilitates the entry of the virus into the cells. It causes endothelial vascular damage, alters the immune response, creates an inflammatory state, and contributes to the involvement of multiple organs.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a syndrome which presents with multiorgan symptoms. The polycystic morphology of ovaries is the result of hyperandrogenaemia, but not its cause. PCOS is today considered as a proinflammatory disorder.
Both men and women are equally affected by COVID-19, with a propensity for severe disease and a higher mortality in men compared to women. These gender disparities made researchers study the influence of male hormones on the immune response to COVID-19 infection., The findings can be summarized as:
- Behavioral differences between men and women such as higher rates of smoking, noncompliance to using protective measures, a higher prevalence of noncommunicable diseases, and low Vitamin D levels could be contributory to the higher incidence of COVID-19 infection seen in men versus women,,,
- SARS-CoV-2 uses ACE2 and transmembrane protease serine 2 receptors to enter the cells. These entry points are positively influenced by the presence of androgens
- There is a difference in the immune responses of men and women to COVID-19 infection. Women demonstrate a stronger T-cell response while a milder T-cell response is seen in men.
More severe Covid-19 infection has been observed in bald men and in women with androgenic alopecia., Deprivation of androgens as seen in patients with prostate cancer is found to make these men partially protected, compared to those who are not androgen deprived., Reduction in viral load has also been observed in men and women who were on androgen receptor inhibitors., Thus, androgenic status could be one of the important contributory factors for the increased severity of COVID-19 in men.
Women with PCOS may have clinical or biochemical hyperandrogenemia. Eighty percent of PCOS women are obese and a large percentage of them are insulin resistant, with a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes mellitus during pregnancy and Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) at a relatively young age. There are considerable data indicating that diabetes and obesity are the predictors of severe morbidity and mortality in COVID-19 infection.,,,,
Obesity is often accompanied by comorbidities including T2DM, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and renal disease, which affects the severity of any infection. Since adipose tissue has a higher expression of ACE2 receptors, there is a prolonged presence of the SARS-CoV-2, leading to a greater exposure and increased risk of severe disease., Obesity is also associated with chronic inflammation, abnormal cytokine activation, and dysfunction of inherent immunity, leading to a worse prognosis in those infected. Hence, obese women with a proinflammatory disorder of PCOS have an increased risk of severe COVID-19 infection.
There is a high prevalence of PCOS in women of Indian ethnicity. Recently, the European Society for Endocrinology has published guidelines for the endocrine phenotype of the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidelines suggest that patients with endocrine disorders should be considered as high priority for vaccinations, especially those individuals with diabetes and obesity.
Hence, I strongly recommend that PCOS women with their strong predisposition to both T2DM and obesity should be included as a high-risk group and prioritized for COVID vaccination in India.
The author is the President of PCOS Society of India.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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