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Genome-wide association study of sex hormones, gonadotropins and sex hormone–binding protein in Chinese men

Abstract

Background Sex hormones and gonadotropins exert a wide variety of effects in physiological and pathological processes. Accumulated evidence shows a strong heritable component of circulating concentrations of these hormones. Recently, several genome-wide association studies (GWASs) conducted in Caucasians have identified multiple loci that influence serum levels of sex hormones. However, the genetic determinants remain unknown in Chinese populations. In this study, we aimed to identify genetic variants associated with major sex hormones, gonadotropins, including testosterone, oestradiol, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinising hormone (LH) and sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) in a Chinese population.

Methods A two-stage GWAS was conducted in a total of 3495 healthy Chinese men (1999 subjects in the GWAS discovery stage and 1496 in the confirmation stage).

Results We identified a novel genetic region at 15q21.2 (rs2414095 in CYP19A1), which was significantly associated with oestradiol and FSH in the Chinese population at a genome-wide significant level (p=6.54×10−31 and 1.59×10−16, respectively). Another single nucleotide polymorphism in CYP19A1 gene was significantly associated with oestradiol level (rs2445762, p=7.75×10−28). In addition, we confirmed the previous GWAS-identified locus at 17p13.1 for testosterone (rs2075230, p=1.13×10−8) and SHBG level (rs2075230, p=4.75×10−19) in the Chinese population.

Conclusions This study is the first GWAS investigation of genetic determinants of FSH and LH. The identification of novel susceptibility loci may provide more biological implications for the synthesis and metabolism of these hormones. More importantly, the confirmation of the genetic loci for testosterone and SHBG suggests common genetic components shared among different ethnicities.

  • GWAS
  • sex hormone
  • FSH
  • estradiol
  • CYP19A1
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