Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Genes link puberty timing to body fat in women

Date:
November 22, 2010
Source:
Boston University Medical Center
Summary:
Scientists have discovered 30 new genes that control the age of sexual maturation in women. Notably, many of these genes also act on body weight regulation or biological pathways related to fat metabolism. Puberty in women normally occurs between 11 and 14 years of age. If a girl reaches a particular weight (around 100 lb (45 kg)), the onset of puberty is triggered. The heavier the child, the earlier puberty occurs, possibly affecting risk of later disease.

Scientists have discovered 30 new genes that control the age of sexual maturation in women. Notably, many of these genes also act on body weight regulation or biological pathways related to fat metabolism. The study, which appears in Nature Genetics, was a collaborative effort by the international ReproGen consortium, which included 175 scientists from 104 worldwide institutions, including Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and Boston University School of Public Health.

Puberty in women normally occurs between 11 and 14 years of age. If a child reaches a particular weight (around 45 kg or 100 lb), the onset of puberty is triggered. The heavier the child, the earlier puberty occurs, possibly affecting risk of later disease.

Massimo Mangino, an author from the Twin Research Department at King's College London's Department, says: 'It is fascinating how common genetic variants influence both early puberty and weight gain. The findings give us clues on how intricately linked are different biological processes.'

Menarche, the onset of first menstruation in girls, indicates the attainment of reproductive capacity and is a widely used marker of pubertal timing. Age of menarche varies widely and is highly dependent on nutritional status. Early menarche is associated with many adverse health outcomes later in life, including breast cancer, endometrial cancer, obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, as well as shorter adult stature.

To identify loci for age at menarche, the researchers performed a meta-analysis of 32 genome-wide association studies on more than 87,000 women from the U.S., Europe and Australia and performed replication studies in nearly 15,000 additional women. In addition to the known loci at LIN28B and 9q31.2, the researchers identified 30 new menarche loci and found suggestive evidence for a further 10 loci. According to the researchers, the new loci included four previously associated with body mass index, three in or near other genes implicated in energy homeostasis and three in or near genes implicated in hormonal regulation. Ingenuity and gene-set enrichment pathway analyses identified coenzyme A and fatty acid biosynthesis as biological processes related to timing of menarche.

"Our study found genes involved in hormone regulation, cell development and other biological pathways associated with mechanisms age at menarche, which shows that the timing of puberty is controlled by a complex range of biological processes," said senior author Joanne Murabito, MD ScM, an associate professor of medicine at BUSM and Clinic Director and Investigator of the Framingham Heart Study.

"Several of the genes for menarche have been associated with body weight and obesity in other studies suggesting some women may have a genetic susceptibility to weight gain and early puberty. It is important to understand that these 'genetic factors' can be modified by changes in lifestyle. Efforts to reduce or prevent childhood obesity should in turn help reduce the early onset of puberty in girls," added Murabito.

The next steps according to the researchers are to examine the findings in women of other race/ethnic groups, as well as to examine whether these genetic loci influence growth and to determine whether the associations are driven by measures of body fatness. This future work will help to unravel the biologic mechanism underlying the associations.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Boston University Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Cathy E Elks et al. Thirty new loci for age at menarche identified by a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies. Nature Genetics, 21 November 2010 DOI: 10.1038/ng.714

Cite This Page:

Boston University Medical Center. "Genes link puberty timing to body fat in women." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101121160234.htm>.
Boston University Medical Center. (2010, November 22). Genes link puberty timing to body fat in women. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101121160234.htm
Boston University Medical Center. "Genes link puberty timing to body fat in women." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101121160234.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Newsy (July 23, 2014) An 8-year-old boy helped his younger brother, who has a rare genetic condition that's confined him to a wheelchair, finish a triathlon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Who Can't Afford Medical Care Flock to Free US Clinic

Thousands Who Can't Afford Medical Care Flock to Free US Clinic

AFP (July 23, 2014) America may be the world’s richest country, but in terms of healthcare, the World Health Organisation ranks it 37th. Thousands turned out for a free clinic run by "Remote Area Medical" with a visit from the Governor of Virginia. Duration: 2:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The Wawona Packing Company has issued a voluntary recall on the stone fruit it distributes due to a possible Listeria outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins