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THURSDAY, Jan. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Thirteen new genetic loci have been linked to age of menopause onset, implicating genes involved in DNA repair and immune function, according to a study published online Jan. 22 in Nature Genetics.
Lisette Stolk, Ph.D., from Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and colleagues performed a meta-analysis of 22 genome-wide association studies involving 38,968 women of European descent who had experienced natural menopause between the ages of 40 and 60 years. The results were replicated in 14,435 women from 21 studies.
The researchers identified four loci previously associated with age of menopause onset and thirteen new loci, which correlated significantly with age at natural menopause. The new loci contained candidate genes involved in DNA repair and immune function. Pathway analyses indicated that biological processes associated with these loci were exodeoxyribonuclease, NFκB signaling, and mitochondrial dysfunction.
"We hope that as a better understanding of the biologic effects of these menopause-related variants are uncovered, we will gain new insights into the connections between menopause and cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, osteoporosis, and other traits related to aging, and that this will provide avenues for prevention and treatment of these conditions," a coauthor said in a statement.
Several authors are employees of pharmaceutical companies, and one author is an employee of deCODE Genetics.
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