Examining the effects of whey protein supplementation on the inflammatory response in polycystic ovary syndrome (pcos)

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The current study investigated the effects of whey protein supplementation on glucose concentrations, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), and interleukins IL-4, IL-6, and IL-10 in women with and without polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Six PCOS women and eight control, or women without PCOS, were included in this study. Participants consumed 35g of whey protein 30 minutes before their afternoon meal daily for 40 days. Subjects came to the clinic at day 1, day 20, and day 40 for collection of blood samples to analyze the dependent variables previously mentioned. On days 1 and 40, blood samples were taken from fasted participants. They were then given a protein drink with 35g of whey protein. Thirty minutes after the consumption of whey protein, another blood draw was taken. On day 20, only a fasted blood draw was taken. Statistical analyses tested within and between groups, and correlations between all dependent variables. There were no statistical differences between groups or within groups at Day 1, 20, or 40. At baseline, there was a statistically significant correlation in the PCOS group between TNF-α and IL-6 (r = .856) and IL-4 (r = .882). TNF- α and IL-6 are elevated in the chronic inflammatory state. The correlation with pro-inflammatory TNF- α and anti-inflammatory IL-4 may be due to the aberrant expression of cytokine concentrations in a chronic inflammatory state. However, there were no significant correlations at Day 40 in the PCOS group, which may be an improvement in overall inflammatory ratio. At baseline in the control group there were significant positive correlations between changes in glucose and MCP-1 (r = .805) and IL-6 and TNF-α (r = .766). The correlation between MCP-1 and increased glucose concentration changes, as well as the correlation between IL-6 and TNF-α has been associated with chronic disease. At day 40 in the control group there was a strong positive correlation between IL-6 and TNF-α (r = .869) and MCP-1 (r = .925) and also IL-4 and IL-10 (r = .857). Although not significant, it appears that over time there may have been an overall reduction in pro-inflammatory cytokines in the PCOS group. The PCOS group demonstrated a reduction of 22% in glucose spike when comparing Day 1 pre- and post-protein consumption to Day 40. Whey protein supplementation may also help to restore some balance between pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokine concentrations. The present study did demonstrate a decrease in pro-inflammatory cytokines and increase in anti-inflammatory cytokines by the end of the study. This may suggest that whey protein could have a beneficial effect in reducing chronic inflammation in PCOS. Further research is needed in a larger sample size to confirm the findings of this study. Furthermore, it may be beneficial for each data collection timepoint to fall within the same phase of the menstrual cycle for consistency throughout the duration of the study. Tracking dietary intake should also be considered to control for nutritional variables.

Polycystic ovary syndrome, Whey protein, Inflammation