Night sweats and hot flashes can be related to genes
Many menopausal women suffer from hot flashes and so-called night sweats. However, there is also a significant minority of women who are not affected by such symptoms. Researchers are now investigating whether genes affect which women experience hot flashes.
In a study, the scientists from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) found evidence that certain gene variants influence a receptor in the brain, which then regulates the release of estrogen. Women with these gene variants are more prone to hot flashes and night sweats. American doctors have now released a press release on the results of their study.
So far there have been no studies on the connection between hot flashes and gene variants
The results may lead to new ways of treatment in the future. It would then be possible to relieve the hot flashes. Previous studies had not focused on how variants of female genes can be associated with hot flashes, explains author Dr. Carolyn Crandall from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
In menopause, more than 70 percent of women suffer from hot flashes
More than 70 percent of women experience hot flashes and suffer from so-called night sweats. These conditions are known as vasomotor symptoms for menopause, the doctors explain. An increased BMI, a lower level of education, smoking, anxiety and depression are also associated with an increased risk of common vasomotor symptoms. A genetic link to these symptoms has so far remained unclear, the experts add.
Physicians analyze data from 17,695 postmenopausal women
The study carried out examined the common genetic variants of the entire human genome. This observation should reveal a connection between gene variations and observed features (in this case hot flashes and night sweats), the scientists explain. To this end, the experts examined the data of 17,695 postmenopausal women aged 50 to 79 years. These had participated in the so-called ö, da, since Women's Health Initiative took part and provided DNA samples and information on hot flashes and night sweats, the researchers say. The doctors examined more than eleven million gene variants. These are also referred to as single nucleotide polymorphisms.
Fourteen gene variants are associated with the occurrence of hot flashes
The doctors found that fourteen of these variants were associated with experiencing hot flashes. All of these were located on chromosome 4. The gene variants are located in the part of chromosome 4 that encodes the tachykinin receptor 3, the experts explain. The receptor is located in the brain and reacts there with the nerve fibers. These regulate the release of the hormone estrogen. For example, women with mutations in the tachykinin receptor 3 gene are sterile. This is the first study that links the variants of the tachykinin receptor 3 gene with the appearance of hot flashes, the scientists add.
More research is needed
It is still unclear how various environmental factors affect the results, explains Dr. Crandall. Some rare gene variants could also affect hot flashes. The results of the current investigation should be confirmed in future studies. This could help medical professionals understand how they can better influence hot flashes, the author adds. (as)