FMR1 Gene May Control Women’s Fertility Life Cycle, According to Research from Center for Human Reproduction

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Research from a leading New York infertility center suggests that the FMR1 gene influences the age at which a woman reaches menarche.

Center for Human Reproduction
The finding further strengthens our hypothesis that the FMR1 gene has a significant influence on how a woman’s ovaries reach maturity, and then decline with age, defining her reproductive life cycle over her lifetime.

A new study presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) in San Diego, CA, offers further evidence that the fragile X mental retardation 1 gene (FMR1 gene) may play an important role in controlling women’s fertility life cycles.

The study, conducted by researchers from the Center for Human Reproduction (CHR), a leading fertility center in New York City, and the Medical University of Vienna in Austria, compared the age of menarche (start of menstruation) and the number of CGG tri-nucleotide repeats on the FMR1 gene. Among the 222 women studied, a significant relationship was identified between the age of menarche and CGG counts. Specifically, women with at least one FMR1 allele with CGG counts higher than 34 were more likely to reach menarche after age 13 compared to women with CGG counts on both FMR1 alleles below 34.

The FMR1 gene has long been associated with neuro-psychiatric conditions, but only in recent years it has been shown to have controlling effects on women’s ovarian function. While for neuro-psychiatric risks, the FMR1 gene is considered normal up to CGG repeats of 55, the CHR investigators defined CGG counts between 26 and 34 as normal (norm) in regards to ovarian function, with CGG counts higher than 34 being defined as high and those lower than 26 as low. In a number of prior publications, the same group demonstrated genotypes and sub-genotypes of the FMR1 gene to be statistically associated with different ovarian aging patterns and IVF pregnancy rates.

“This study revealed that women with at least one high FMR1 allele tend to start their reproductive life later than women with low or norm alleles,” explains Norbert Gleicher, MD, Medical Director and Chief Scientists of CHR. “The finding further strengthens our hypothesis that the FMR1 gene has a significant influence on how a woman’s ovaries reach maturity, and then decline with age, defining her reproductive life cycle over her lifetime.”

Further studies are needed to better define how to predict a woman’s reproductive potential as she moves through life, based on FMR1 genotypes and sub-genotypes. Currently, prediction of female reproductive potential is difficult, and often impossible. Utilization of FMR1 genotypes and sub-genotypes may potentially open up new opportunities.

About Center for Human Reproduction
The Center for Human Reproduction (CHR, http://www.centerforhumanreprod.com/), located in New York City, is one of the world’s leading fertility centers. Because of its worldwide reputation as "fertility center of last resort,” CHR has a worldwide patient following among women with DOR, whether due to advanced age, or due to premature ovarian aging (POA). Dr. Gleicher is available for further comments.

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