Last updated on August 2018

Inherited Reproductive Disorders


Brief description of study

Background
  • During puberty, children begin to develop into adults. Problems with the hormones released during puberty can affect the reproductive system. Some people have low hormone levels that severely delay or prevent puberty. Others start puberty abnormally early. Other people may have a normal puberty but develop reproductive disorders later in life. Researchers want to study people with reproductive disorders to learn more about how these disorders may be inherited.
    Objectives
  • To learn how reproductive system disorders may be inherited.
    Eligibility
  • People with one of the following problems:
  • Abnormally early puberty
  • Abnormally late or no puberty
  • Normal puberty with hormonal problems that develop later in life
  • People who have not yet had puberty but have symptoms that indicate low hormone levels.
    Design
  • Participants will provide a blood sample for testing. They will complete a questionnaire about their symptoms. They will also have a scratch-and-sniff test to study any problems with their ability to smell.
  • Participant medical records will be reviewed. Participants will also provide a family medical history.
  • Family members of those in the study may be invited to participate.
  • Treatment will not be provided as part of this study.

Detailed Study Description

The key initiating factors for reproductive development remain among the great mysteries of pediatric and reproductive endocrinology. The onset of puberty is initiated by pulsatile secretion of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) from the hypothalamus. The neuroendocrine events leading to increased GnRH secretion and the resultant onset of puberty remain largely unknown.

Isolated deficiency of GnRH results in the rare clinical syndrome of idiopathic hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (IHH), where decreased secretion of GnRH results in impaired gonadotropin secretion. The resultant hypogonadism presents with delayed, incomplete, or absent sexual maturation. Human and animal models have identified a number of genes responsible for IHH, but more than half of patients with clinical evidence of the disorder do not have a detectable mutation. In addition, there is significant clinical heterogeneity among affected individuals, including members of the same family harboring the same mutations. Careful human phenotyping of such patients and families has expanded our understanding of this spectrum of disorders to include oligo-digenic inheritence, as well as reversibility of the condition, and has provided insight into developmental pathways involved in the ontogeny of GnRH neurons.

Genetic analysis of subjects with unknown mutations is likely to yield important insights into additional pathways involved in the regulation of GnRH secretion. Here, we propose a genetic investigation of subjects with IHH to characterize further the phenotypic effect of previously described genetic variants, as well as to identify novel genes involved in congenital GnRH deficiency. In collaboration with the Reproductive Endocrine Unit at the Massachusetts General Hospital, we will use both candidate gene and whole exome approaches, as well as linkage analysis. The collaboration will allow for sufficient statistical power to conduct such an investigation.

This protocol will utilize the disease model of IHH to increase our understanding of the physiology of GnRH secretion, including the neuroendocrine regulation of GnRH pulsatility. Examining the genetic characteristics of subjects with isolated GnRH deficiency will reveal insights into the mechanisms underlying the reawakening of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis at puberty, providing opportunities for new diagnostic capabilities and therapeutic interventions for disorders of puberty and fertility.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT01500447

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National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, 9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD United States
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