press information / news

24.07.2014

Sexual Maturuity influenced by which parent genes are inherited from

The age at which girls reach sexual maturity is influenced by ‘imprinted’ genes, a small sub-set of genes whose activity differs depending on which parent passes on that gene, according to new research published in the journal ‘Nature’. The findings come from an international study of more than 180,000 women involving scientists from 166 institutions worldwide, including the Helmholtz Zentrum München. The researchers identified 123 genetic variations that were associated with the timing of when girls experienced their first menstrual cycle by analysing the DNA of 182,416 women of European descent from 57 studies. Six of these variants were found to be clustered within imprinted regions of the genome.

Dr. Chrsitian Gieger, Dr. Doris Stoeckl (Source: Helmholtz Zentrum München)

At the Helmholtz Zentrum München scientists headed by Dr. Christian Gieger, Dr. Doris Stöckl and Dr. Melanie Waldenberger from the Institutes of Genetic Epidemiology and Epidemiology II as well as from the  Research Unit of Molecular Epidemiology contributed to the study. They analyzed data from the population based KORA*-study.

„Our results for the first time provide new insights into genetic regulation of sexual maturity,“ explains Gieger. „The age at which girls have their first menstruation has many times been linked to chronic diseases such as Diabetes mellitus or cardiovascular diseases,“ adds Stöckl, „therefore we hope that the genetic associations will also deliver more knowledge on these wide spread diseases.“

To press release by the University of Cambridge


Further information

*KORA (Kooperative Gesundheitsforschung in der Region Augsburg)
For more than 20 years, the research platform Cooperative Health Research in the Augsburg Region (KORA) has been collecting and analyzing data on the health of thousands of people living in the Augsburg region. The objective is to elucidate the effects of environmental factors, behavior and genes. KORA focuses on the development and course of chronic diseases, in particular myocardial infarction and diabetes mellitus. Risk factors are analyzed with regard to individual health behavior (e.g. smoking, diet, exercise), environmental factors (e.g. air pollution, noise) and genetics. From the perspective of health care research, questions regarding the utilization of health care resources and the cost of health care are also studied. www.helmholtz-muenchen.de/kora


Original publication:

Perry, JRB et al. (2014). Parent-of-origin specific allelic associations among 106 genomic1 loci for age at menarche, Nature, doi: 10.1038/nature13545

Link to publication


As German Research Center for Environmental Health, Helmholtz Zentrum München pursues the goal of developing personalized medical approaches for the prevention and therapy of major common diseases such as diabetes mellitus and lung diseases. To achieve this, it investigates the interaction of genetics, environmental factors and lifestyle. The Helmholtz Zentrum München has about 2,200 staff members and is headquartered in Neuherberg in the north of Munich. Helmholtz Zentrum München is a member of the Helmholtz Association, a community of 18 scientific-technical and medical-biological research centers with a total of about 34,000 staff members. www.helmholtz-muenchen.de

Research at the Institute of Genetic Epidemiology (IGE) is concerned with genetic statistics. This encompasses the planning, execution and analysis of gene mapping projects related to complex diseases as well as the development and implementation of new statistical methods. The activities extend to genome-wide association studies and linkage analyses (family studies) of a wide variety of diseases. A focus is on phenotypes that are studied within the framework of the population-based KORA cohort. The aim of the Institute is to contribute to the elucidation of the genetic causes of complex diseases.

The Research Unit of Molecular Epidemiology (AME) analyses population-based cohorts and case studies for specific diseases, using genomics, epigenomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics and functional analyses. The aim of this research unit is to decipher the molecular mechanisms of complex diseases like type 2 diabetes or obesity. The unit administers the biological specimen repository of the Department of Epidemiology and stores the samples for national and international projects.

The Institute of Epidemiology II (EPI II) focuses on the assessment of environmental and lifestyle risk factors which jointly affect major chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and mental health. Research builds on the unique resources of the KORA cohort, the KORA myocardial infarction registry, and the KORA aerosol measurement station. Aging-related phenotypes have been added to the KORA research portfolio within the frame of the Research Consortium KORA-Age. The institute’s contributions are specifically relevant for the population as modifiable personal risk factors are being researched that could be influenced by the individual or by improving legislation for the protection of public health.

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Scientific contact
Dr. Christian Gieger, Helmholtz Zentrum München – German Research Center for Environmental Health (GmbH), Institute of Genetic Epidemiology, Ingolstädter Landstr. 1, 85764 Neuherberg – Phone: 089-3187-4106 -