Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common endocrine disorder in women of reproductive age, accounting for 50–70% of anovulatory infertility cases. However, the etiology of PCOS at the molecular level remains unclear. Here, bioinformatics analysis was performed to identify differentially expressed genes (DEGs) between adipose tissue of PCOS patients and matched tissues from non-hyperandrogenic women. RT-qPCR, western blot, cell counting kit-8 (CCK-8), EdU (5-Ethynyl-2'-deoxyuridine) staining, LC3 staining, ROS (reactive oxygen species) detection, and apoptosis assays were conducted to explore the effects of sestrin 1 on KGN human granulosa-like tumor cells. Bioinformatics analysis indicated that DEGs in adipose tissue from PCOS patients were enriched in the p53 signaling pathway. Moreover, sestrin 1 was identified as a major target of the p53 gene. Downregulation of sestrin 1 inhibited proliferation of KGN cells by inhibiting autophagy. Additionally, sestrin 1 downregulation increased ROS generation and promoted apoptosis in KGN cells. By contrast, overexpression of sestrin 1 increased cell viability by increasing autophagy in KGN cells. Together, these results suggest that downregulation of sestrin 1 may be a potential novel treatment strategy for PCOS.