Crouse Health Online: Wellness is just a click away.
Share Share
  |  Connect with Us: 
large
med
small
Text Size
 

Health News



Gene Linked to Start of Puberty

Gene Linked to Start of Puberty

02/15/12

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers report that they've discovered the importance of a particular gene in kicking off puberty in humans, a finding that offers insight into how the mysterious process begins and could help children who suffer from a rare disease that prevents the start of puberty.

An analysis of the DNA of a family whose members have suffered from the disease confirmed that the gene is vital because it paves the way for the body to process a hormone known as kisspeptin.

"Without kisspeptin, a human being cannot attain sexual characteristics of his/her gender and child-bearing capacity. Kisspeptin is absolutely required for the start of the puberty process in humans," said study author Dr. A. Kemal Topaloglu, of the department of pediatric endocrinology at Cukurova University in Adana, Turkey.

A mutation in the gene, the researchers found, can cause a rare condition called hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, in which children don't fully enter puberty.

Dr. William F. Crowley Jr., director of the Harvard Reproductive Endocrine Sciences Center at Harvard Medical School, said the condition affects no more than one in 10,000 children, and perhaps even fewer.

"They look like they're 12 years old, even when they're 20. They don't have a growth spurt and tend to be short, and the males don't shave," Crowley said.

In the new study, researchers examined the genetic makeup of a family in which four daughters had the disease. They linked the disease to a mutation in the gene that creates a receptor that processes the kisspeptin hormone.

The hormone can be used to make the brain produce hormones that stimulate the maturation of ovaries and testicles, Topaloglu said. Also, medications that shut down the hormone could be used to treat a condition that causes early puberty, he said, or serve as a contraceptive.

"Such drugs can also be used in the treatment of cancers that are stimulated by sex hormones, the most notably breast and prostate cancers," Topaloglu said.

The research could lead to alternative treatments for the puberty-preventing disease. Currently, hormone therapy is almost always a success when used to treat kids with the condition, but it's more difficult to enable them to have children of their own once they grow up, Topaloglu said.

As for the big question of what causes puberty, Crowley said the new findings help provide another clue. They show how the gene -- one of 19 -- helps turn on the pilot light that powers puberty, he said.

"This is a very rare cause of a very rare condition," he said. "But every piece of this puzzle winds up being very important to putting the whole thing together."

The study appears in the Feb. 16 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

More information

For more about puberty and adolescence, try the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

OF INTEREST:
 

Latest News

Crouse Hospital Appoints Chief Information Officer
more >

MedEx Bedside Prescription Delivery Service

Free service offers convenience, patient education at discharge.
more >

Weight Loss Surgery

Is it right for you? Attend a free information seminar held twice monthly.
more >

Quality at Crouse

See how Crouse Hospital strives to provide the best in patient care.
more >

Cheer Up That Special Someone

Say get well or welcome a new arrival with a gift purchased right at Crouse.

more >

Make an Online Donation Now

Your donation of any amount helps support Crouse services & programs in a meaningful way.
more >

Shop Online Now

Say get well, thinking of you or welcome new baby with a unique gift from the Crouse Gift Shop.

more >