Most women experience hot flashes and night sweats either before or during menopause, but some don’t have these symptoms.
In a recent study conducted by UCLA, researchers find that gene variants affecting a receptor in the brain can regulate estrogen release. Women who have these variants are more likely to have hot flashes than women who lack them.
The finding is published in Menopause. Researchers examined data from 17,695 postmenopausal women ages 50 to 79 years who participated in the Women’s Health Initiative.
These women provided DNA samples and information about whether they had experienced hot flashes or night sweats.
Researchers then examined more than 11 million gene variants, called single-nucleotide polymorphisms, sampled across the entire genome.
They found that 14 of the variants were associated with experiencing hot flashes. All of them were located on chromosome 4.
In particular, the gene variants are located in the part of chromosome 4 that encodes the tachykinin receptor 3.
This receptor is located in the brain, where it interacts with nerve fibers that regulate estrogen hormone release. For example, women with mutations in the receptor 3 gene are infertile.
Importantly, the associations between gene and hot flash are similar across European-American, African-American and Hispanic-American women, and they persist even after researchers accounted for other factors that might influence hot flashes.
Researchers claim that this is the first human study linking tachykinin receptor 3 gene variants with hot flashes. No previous studies have focused on how variants in women’s genes may be linked with hot flashes.
The finding may lead to novel treatments to relieve menopausal vasomotor symptoms.
In the future, the results will be confirmed, and researchers will determine how environmental factors might have influenced the results.
Citation: Crandall CJ, et al. (2016). Association of genetic variation in the tachykinin receptor 3 locus with hot flashes and night sweats in the Women’s Health Initiative Study. Manopause, published online. DOI:10.1097/GME.0000000000000763.
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