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Gene variants associated with age at menopause are also associated with polycystic ovary syndrome, gonadotrophins and ovarian volume

Saxena, R., Bjonnes, A.C., Georgopoulos, N.A. et al.

STUDY QUESTION:
Is there a relationship between the genetic risk for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and genetic variants that influence timing of menopause?

SUMMARY ANSWER:
The genetic risk score, which sums the contribution of variants at all menopause loci, was associated with PCOS.

WHAT IS ALREADY KNOWN:
Ovarian parameters and anti-Mullerian hormone levels suggest that women with PCOS should have a later age at menopause.

STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION:
The study was a case-control examination of genetic variants associated with age at menopause in a discovery cohort of women with PCOS (n = 485) and controls (n = 407) from Boston recruited from 2003 to 2012. Replication was performed in women from Greece (cases, n = 884 and controls, n = 311).

PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTINGS, METHODS:
PCOS was defined by the National Institutes of Health criteria in Boston and Greece (n = 783), with additional subjects fulfilling the Rotterdam criteria (hyperandrogenism, polycystic ovary morphology and regular menses) in Greece (n = 101). Controls in Boston and Greece had regular menstrual cycles and no hyperandrogenism. Allele frequencies for variants previously associated with age at menopause were examined in PCOS cases and controls, along with the relationship to quantitative traits.

MAIN RESULTS AND ROLE OF CHANCE:
The variant rs11668344-G was associated with decreased risk of PCOS (odds ratio: 0.77 [0.59-0.93]; P = 0.004). There was a strong relationship between the late menopause allele rs12294104-T and increased LH levels (β ± SE; 0.26 ± 0.06; P = 5.2 × 10(-5)) and the LH:FSH ratio (0.28 ± 0.06; P = 2.7 × 10(-6)). The minor allele at rs10852344-T was associated with smaller ovarian volume (-0.16 ± 0.05; P = 0.0012). A genetic risk score calculated from 16 independent variants associated with age at menopause was also associated with PCOS (P < 0.02), LH and the LH:FSH ratio (both P < 0.05).

LIMITATIONS, REASONS OF CAUTION:
The variant rs11668344 was not associated with PCOS in the Greek cohort, but results exhibited the same direction of effect as the Boston cohort. However, it is possible that the individual association was a false positive in the Boston cohort.

WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS:
The study demonstrates that gene variants known to influence age at menopause are also associated with risk for PCOS. Further, our data suggest that the relationship between age at menopause and PCOS may be explained, at least in part, by effects on LH levels and follicle number. The data point to opposing influences of the genetic variants on both menopausal age and PCOS.

Citation

Saxena, R., Bjonnes, A.C., Georgopoulos, N.A. et al. "Gene variants associated with age at menopause are also associated with polycystic ovary syndrome, gonadotrophins and ovarian volume" Human Reproduction (2015): 1,697–703