Open Access Open Badges Research article

Effect of metformin on serum interleukin-6 levels in polycystic ovary syndrome: a systematic review

Xinghua Xu1*, Chigang Du2, Qingmei Zheng3, Lina Peng1 and Yuanyuan Sun4

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Liaocheng People’s Hospital, 67 Dongchangxi Road, Liaocheng, Shandong Province 252000, China

2 Department of Neurosurgery, Liaocheng People’s Hospital, Liaocheng, Shandong Province 252000, China

3 Department of Gynecology, The Affiliated Hospital of Medical College, Qingdao University, Qingdao, Shandong Province 266500, China

4 Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Dongchangfu District Maternal and Child Health Hospital, Liaocheng, Shandong Province 252000, China

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BMC Women's Health 2014, 14:93  doi:10.1186/1472-6874-14-93

Published: 5 August 2014



Most women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) have insulin resistance, hyperinsulinemia, and elevated serum IL-6 levels. These elevated IL-6 levels may have links with insulin resistance and hyperandrogenism. Metformin may have beneficial effects on the chronic low-grade inflammatory background associated with PCOS.


A systematic review was performed via PUBMED, EMBASE, and The Cochrane Library on PCOS studies published through November 30, 2013. Studies were selected that evaluated the effect of metformin on IL-6 levels in PCOS patients. Studies not containing adequate diagnosis information about PCOS or not excluding of other causes of hyperandrogenism were excluded.


Five studies met the inclusion criteria. Of these, one study reported a significant decrease in IL-6 levels after metformin treatment in women with PCOS. Two studies reported that treatment-related reductions in IL-6 levels were significantly correlated with insulin metabolism. In the remaining two studies, plasma IL-6 levels did not change following metformin treatment.


Serum IL-6 levels of PCOS patients may be influenced by metformin. Early application of metformin therapy may relieve chronic low-grade inflammation in women with PCOS. However, further investigations with larger samples are needed to better understand the effects of metformin on IL-6 levels and chronic inflammation in PCOS.

Polycystic ovary syndrome; Metformin; Interleukin-6; Chronic inflammation