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Giselle Adriana Abruzzese, Maria Florencia Heber, Silvana Rocío Ferreira, María José Ferrer, and Alicia Beatriz Motta

Prenatal androgen exposure affects reproductive functions and has been proposed as an underlying cause of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). In this study, we aimed to investigate the impact of prenatal androgen exposure on ovarian lipid metabolism and to deepen our understanding of steroidogenesis regulation during adulthood. Pregnant rats were hyperandrogenized with testosterone and female offspring were studied when adult. This treatment leads to two different phenotypes: irregular ovulatory and anovulatory animals. Our results showed that prenatally hyperandrogenized (PH) animals displayed altered lipid and hormonal profile together with alterations in steroidogenesis and ovarian lipid metabolism. Moreover, PH animals showed alterations in the PPARg system, impaired mRNA levels of cholesterol receptors (Ldlr and Srb1) and decreased expression of the rate-limiting enzyme of de novo cholesterol production (Hmgcr). Anovulatory PH animals presented an increase of ovarian cholesteryl esters levels and lipid peroxidation index. Together with alterations in cholesterol metabolism, we found an impairment of the steroidogenic pathway in PH animals in a phenotype-specific manner. Regarding fatty acid metabolism, our results showed, in PH animals, an altered expression of Srebp1 and Atgl, which are involved in fatty acid metabolism and triglycerides hydrolysis, respectively. In conclusion, fatty acid and cholesterol metabolism, which are key players in steroidogenesis acting as a source of energy and substrate for steroid production, were affected in animals exposed to androgens during gestation. These results suggest that prenatal androgen exposure leads to long-term effects that affect ovary lipid metabolism and ovarian steroid formation from the very first steps.