Definition - What does Follistatin mean?

Follistatin is a protein that has shown to be associated with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) by inhibiting the release of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) from the pituitary gland. PCOS is a recognized cause of infertility commonly affecting women below thirty years of age. Not all women with increased follistatin levels will develop PCOS, and not all patients with PCOS have elevated follistatin levels. A measurement of follistatin is useful when evaluating a patient with PCOS to look for an underlying cause.

Follistatin is also called activin-binding protein and FSH-suppressing protein.

FertilitySmarts explains Follistatin

Follistatin is a protein molecule produced by the anterior pituitary. It has been shown to decrease follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) by neutralizing growth factors such as activin that are involved in the release of the hormone by the anterior pituitary.

FSH is the primary hormone involved in development and maturation of eggs in the ovaries. Decreased levels of FSH brought about by follistatin can interfere with the maturation of follicles and completely stop the growth of the eggs. Patients with PCOS have irregular menstrual periods associated with absent or irregular release of eggs, which is the main underlying cause for infertility.

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