Finding the Gene for Uterine Growths

Uterine fibroids cause potentially tied to genetics

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Difficult menstrual periods? Pelvic pain? Backache? Fertility issues? These are a few symptoms associated with uterine fibroids, noncancerous pelvic tumors often found in women of childbearing age.

A new study, led by Cynthia Morton, PhD, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston explored genetic clues for the presence of uterine fibroids, potentially giving doctors an early start on detecting the disorder.

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Dr. Morton and team looked at a group of over 7,000 women, all of whom were Caucasian, and whose genetic data was gathered from a variety of previous studies.

Analysis of the data showed that there was a genetic risk factor for developing uterine fibroids.

The risk factor was found in a particular genetic variant located in one span of genetic coding in chromosome 17. This span of coding produces a protein known as fatty acid synthase (FAS).

This FAS protein is known to be associated with a variety of tumors and growth.

Data also shows that samples of uterine fibroids contain three times as much of the FAS protein as do samples of normal uterine tissue.

The Mayo Clinic estimates that as many as 75 percent of women could have these growths at some point, though for many, they go undetected due to lack of symptoms or complications.

While uterine fibroids prove non-problematic for some women, for others they can cause major issues and are the most common cause of hysterectomy in the US.

According to Camran Nezhat, MD, FACOG (Fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists), these results are potentially wide-reaching based on the commonality of the growths.

Dr. Nezhat told dailyRx News, "These findings are very important as one out of four women will have fibroids during their lifetime. A considerable number of them become symptomatic due to these fibroids. This study is a significant step towards solving the mystery that surrounds fibroids."

The authors of the study, which was published online in October 2012 by The American Journal of Human Genetics, suggest that this data will pave the way both for new treatments and new screening methods.

According to Dr. Morton, "Our discovery foretells a path to personalized medicine for women who have a genetic basis for development of uterine fibroids. Identification of genetic risk factors may provide valuable insight into medical management."

Further research into this potential personalized medicine and the tie between uterine fibroids and genetics is needed before changes in treatment or detection is seen.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
October 5, 2012
Last Updated:
October 9, 2012