Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2018

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair

Kara Gabriel

Second Committee Member

April K. Binder

Third Committee Member

Chris Beeman


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is an endocrine disorder in women that is characterized by excess testosterone and is associated with increased risk of infertility. Women with PCOS also show higher rates of depression and anxiety. Modeling PCOS in mice via administration of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) results in physiological alterations that are consistent with the physiological symptoms of PCOS in women. While some studies have investigated behavioral changes in PCOS mouse models, findings have varied. Thus, the current research examined whether a PCOS model with an additional stress factor resulted in behavioral changes. To create a stress condition, subjects were implanted with corticosterone (CORT) pellets to model the complex interaction of stress and PCOS on depression- and anxiety-like behavior. Data analysis for depression-like behavior on the forced swim test showed a significant main effect of time, with subjects spending more time immobile across the 5-minute test, F(4, 108) = 104.43, ps < .001. Anxiety-like behavior on the elevated zero maze showed a significant time x prenatal treatment interaction, F(4, 108) = 2.71, p = .034. The hypothesis that the prenatal PCOS model in conjunction with the stress condition would better model the human condition and result in behavioral alterations was only partially supported. These findings are an important step toward understanding the intersection of stress, mental health, and PCOS for the approximately five million women in the United States with this disorder.