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Genetic predisposition to later puberty causes lower bone density in children and adults

If an individual is genetically programmed for later puberty, we found that he or she tends to have lower bone mineral density during childhood as well as in adulthood,” said geneticist Struan F. A. Grant, PhD, one of three scientists from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) who co-led a study published Oct. 25, 2017 in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.Scientists already knew that later puberty was linked to lower bone mineral density, and that both are risk factors for osteoporosis. This study was the first to analyze the associations between genetic determinants of puberty timing and measurements of bone mineral density.

The researchers drew on data from the Bone Mineral Density in Childhood Study (BMDCS), funded by the NIH. That study included sophisticated bone and growth measurements during annual visits for up to seven years in over 2,000 healthy children, adolescents and young adults during 2002 to 2010. Babette S. Zemel, PhD, another co-study leader, was the principal investigator of the BMDCS at CHOP, where she directs the Nutrition and Growth Laboratory.

In the current research, the study team used a relatively new tool called a “genetic risk score” (GRS), which enables collective study of a group of genetic variants in one go. “We generated a genetic risk score in the BMDCS study based on hundreds of genetic variants associated with later puberty in children, and looked for associations with bone mineral density measurements,” said first author Diana Cousminer, PhD, a CHOP geneticist with expertise in the genetics of puberty. The researchers performed these analyses separately in boys and girls, and also in publicly available corresponding genetic data on bone mineral density in adults.

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Genetic predisposition to later puberty causes lower bone density in children and adults

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