Genes control onset of puberty

May 25th, 2009 - 12:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, May 25 (IANS) Factors like nutrition and athletic training influence the onset of puberty, but genes control the process, a new study has found.
The research, coordinated by University of Western Australia (UWA) molecular geneticist Scott Wilson, determined that genes play their part in activating puberty, after an analysis of eight independent studies.

The study of 17,510 women across eight different international populations included those of European descent. Their reported age of puberty ranged from nine to 17 years.

Women were grouped according to the age they began menstruating. Using high tech ‘gene chips’, researchers were able to analyse DNA samples of the groups to look for similar gene codings and highlight the exact genes most likely accountable.

“Knowledge about the mechanisms controlling this aspect of reproductive biology may also help inform us about disease of the reproductive system,” said Wilson, an associate professor.

Previous studies have shown that early menstruation is linked to higher body fat and shorter stature.

Wilson and colleagues, also found that of the 10 known genetic variants associated with body mass index (height to weight ratio), five were also associated with an influence on the age of puberty, said an UWA release.

“Another potential contribution of the research is improved understanding of the processes involved in adolescent growth and weight regulation,” Wilson said.

These findings were published in Nature Genetics.

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