Hot flushes in menopause may have genetic link

Scientists have found that genetics may play a part in the hot flushes some women experience during menopause.

Researchers, led by a team from the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA), US, have found more than a dozen common genetic variants that appear to have strong links to menopausal hot flushes.

The gene variants they found affect a receptor in the brain that controls oestrogen release.

“No previous studies have focused on how variants in women’s genes may be linked with hot flushes, and these results were highly statistically significant,” said Dr Carolyn Crandall, professor of medicine in the division of general internal medicine and health services research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and the study’s principal investigator.

“These associations were similar across European-American, African-American and Hispanic-American women, and they persisted even after we accounted for other factors that might influence hot flushes.”

According to the study, more than 70 per cent of women experience hot flushes and night sweats. Ethnicity has been linked to an increased risk for frequent symptoms, as have greater body mass index, lower education level, smoking, anxiety and depression. However, genetic links to these symptoms have until now remained unclear.

The researchers examined data from 17,695 post-menopausal women between the ages of 50 and 79, who provided DNA samples and information about whether they had experienced hot flushes or night sweats.

Scientists examined more than 11 million gene variants, called single-nucleotide polymorphisms, sampled across the entire genome. They found that 14 of the variants were associated with experiencing hot flushes and all of them were located on chromosome four.

The gene variants are located in the part of chromosome four that encodes the tachykinin receptor three. This receptor interacts with nerve fibres that regulate the release of oestrogen.

“If we can better identify what genetic variants are associated with hot flashes, this could lead to novel treatments to relieve them,” Dr Crandall added.ADNFCR-2094-ID-801827176-ADNFCR