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

02.12.2010
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 www.sph.umn.edu.
Emily Jensen
Academic Health Center
612-624-9163
jense888@umn.edu
Kris Stouffer
School of Public Health
612-624-4460
stouffer@umn.edu

Emily Jensen | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.umn.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Fish recognize their prey by electric colors
13.11.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht The dawn of a new era for genebanks - molecular characterisation of an entire genebank collection
13.11.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

The dawn of a new era for genebanks - molecular characterisation of an entire genebank collection

13.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Fish recognize their prey by electric colors

13.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Ultrasound Connects

13.11.2018 | Awards Funding

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>