Environmental factors may affect onset of puberty: study


The results showed that epigenetic changes cause the dysregulation of genes important for pubertal development. (File photo)


Besides genes, environmental and lifestyle factors that lead to chemical changes in human genes can also influence the timing of a child’s puberty, according to a new study.

Chemical changes to the human genome – epigenetic changes – occur when girls and boys enter puberty.

The results showed that epigenetic changes cause the dysregulation of genes important for pubertal development.

Further, highly specific changes in a child's DNA methylation - a process by which methyl groups are added to DNA - could differentiate children according to whether they had entered puberty or not and thus may be used to predict a child's pubertal stage.

“Changes in DNA methylation patterns can be caused by many different factors. However, we were able to observe very specific changes as children went through puberty, and then we showed that this also led to changes in expression of methylated genes,” said the leader. researcher Kristian Almstrup from the Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen.

Due to changes in the epigenetic control of the gene, the “puberty genes” TRIP6 – Thyroid Hormone Receptor Interactor 6, have been found to be increasingly expressed during puberty.

Epigenetics is a major mechanism by which our environment communicates with our genes and therefore also controls if, where and to what extent genes are expressed.

The epigenetic changes identified during puberty are therefore our best lead to understand how environmental factors can affect the onset of puberty, according to the article published in the journal Scientific Reports.

“The study demonstrates how the environment can affect the onset of puberty in humans. It gives us significant insight into the crucial role of epigenetic factors on our reproductive development,” added Anders Juul, professor at Rigshospitalet Copenhagen.

For the study, the team focused on the role of epigenetics in adolescent girls and boys.

They found a number of areas in the human genome that are epigenetically controlled during puberty.

In girls, the onset of puberty has been observed to decrease by age 11 to 10. Boys also showed similar, but less pronounced changes.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)


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