Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


U of M researcher helps unlock 30 new genes responsible for early-onset puberty

University of Minnesota School of Public Health researcher Ellen Demerath, Ph.D., is among an international group of researchers that has identified 30 new genes responsible for determining the age of sexual maturation in women.

Many of these genes are also known to influence body fatness, obesity, and energy metabolism. Prior to the multi-institutional study, only four genes had been identified as contributing to the process.

The findings, which were reported in Nature Genetics, help to explain why girls who are obese tend to have earlier puberty: some of the same genes are involved in both outcomes. Early menarche, or the first menstrual cycle, is linked to a variety of chronic adulthood diseases, including breast cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and type 2 diabetes.

As a result of these discoveries, Demerath suggests that health care providers and other professionals pay particularly close attention to girls with a high risk of obesity (those who are overweight in childhood or who have a parental history of obesity) and intervene with them, as those girls are also genetically more susceptible to early menarche.

“Early menarche is caused by both genetics and environmental factors,” said Demerath. “We already knew that diet and physical exercise play a role in menarche, but now that we’ve identified more of the specific genes involved, this gives us clues about how to intervene on the process. By showing how hereditary and biological factors contribute to early menarche, we hope to one day allow health care providers to identify girls with increased risk of early menarche, and help them avoid the complications of early-onset puberty.”

In the large-scale, NIH-funded study, researchers from 104 institutions collected data from more than 100,000 women from the United States, Europe, and Australia. This includes women from the Twin Cities area enrolled in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study. Not only were researchers able to identify these new genes, but they also found that many of them play a role in body weight regulation or biological pathways related to fat metabolism. The study findings also suggest that menarche is a result of a complex range of biological processes.

Today, girls are menstruating earlier than ever before. In the mid-1900s, the average age of menarche was 14-15 years. The average age today is 12-13 years.

“We now know that hormone regulation, cell development, and other mechanisms are related to menarche,” said Demerath.

According to Demerath, the next step for researchers is to examine whether some of these genes also influence sexual development in males, whether the genes are related to general growth in size as well as development, the points in the life cycle when the genes are most powerfully expressed, and how environmental factors such as diet and physical activity can modify their effects.

School of Public Health
For more than 60 years, the University of Minnesota School of Public Health has been among the top accredited schools of public health in the nation. With a mission focused on research, teaching, and service, the school attracts nearly $100 million in research funding each year, has more than 100 faculty members and more than 1,300 students, and is engaged in community outreach activities locally, nationally and in dozens of countries worldwide. For more information, visit
Emily Jensen
Academic Health Center
Kris Stouffer
School of Public Health

Emily Jensen | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>