Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which is characterized by hyperandrogenism, is a complex endocrinopathy that affects the fertility of 9–18% of reproductive-aged women. However, the exact mechanism of PCOS, especially hyperandrogen-induced anovulation, is largely unknown to date. Physiologically, the natriuretic peptide type C/natriuretic peptide receptor 2 (CNP/NPR2) system is essential for sustaining oocyte meiotic arrest until the preovulatory luteinizing hormone (LH) surge. We therefore hypothesized that the CNP/NPR2 system is also involved in PCOS and contributes to arresting oocyte meiosis and ovulation. Here, based on a dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)-induced PCOS-like mouse model, persistent high levels of CNP/NPR2 were detected in anovulation ovaries. Meanwhile, oocytes arrested at the germinal vesicle stage correlated with persistent high levels of androgen and estrogen. We further showed that ovulation failure in these mice could be a result of elevated Nppc/Npr2 gene transcription that was directly increased by androgen (AR) and estrogen (ER) receptor signaling. Consistent with this, anovulation was alleviated by administration of either exogenous human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) or inhibitors of AR or ER to reduce the level of CNP/NPR2. Additionally, the CNP/NPR2 expression pattern in the anovulated follicles was, to some extent, consistent with the clinical expression in PCOS patients. Therefore, our study highlights the important role an overactive CNP/NPR2 system caused by hyperandrogenism in preventing oocytes from maturation and ovulation in PCOS mice. Our findings provide insight into potential mechanisms responsible for infertility in women with PCOS.

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