We all know that the most common reason behind PCOS is hormonal disorder due to your lifestyle. But do you know a major portion of the PCOS risk is determined by your genes? Yes, you read it right, as a certain part of the PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) condition can be inherited over the subsequent generations. To study this, scientists from the University of Alabama, Birmingham, performed a detailed research. They found that almost 24% of the females suffering from PCOS had mothers affected with the same condition and 32% of the female group had a sister suffering from PCOS1. This highlighted the relation of the genetic factors with PCOS condition.
Well, you will be amazed to know that there is as such no single gene responsible for PCOS. Instead, there is a wide variety of genes and underlying biochemical pathways that seems to be responsible for it. If you are wondering how come genes are responsible for PCOS, then read ahead of the brief explanation about the same.
We know that PCOS is a condition with hormonal disorder contributed by multiple factors (hormones, enzymes, receptors, and other biomolecules). These factors are nothing but protein encoded by genes (i.e. your genes contain certain information which is processed biologically to make these proteins). Hence, any alteration in genetic information can result in a defective protein. These proteins play a crucial role in maintaining your body homeostasis by participating in various biological pathways, which gets affected due to defective protein.
The main genes contributing to PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) are those encoding for factors critical for production, transport, and regulation. This includes factors involved in insulin metabolisms such as signaling pathway initiating binding of insulin to its receptor, insulin-like growth factor and more. Apart from this, there are genes which also encode for:
- Androgen Binding Receptor (ABR): Wherein the androgens (Hormones which are responsible for male-like traits and reproductive activity) bind to its receptor and initiate a further signaling cascade.
- Follicular Stimulating Hormone Receptor (FSHR): The follicular stimulating hormone which plays an important role in follicular development during the reproductive cycle binds to FSHR. Any alteration in the gene encoding for the FSH hormone or FSHR can affect the subsequent biological pathways leading to PCOS signs and symptoms.
- Fat Mass Obesity (FTO): It is also known by the name alpha-ketoglutarate dependent dioxygenase. As the name only suggests this gene is associated with body mass index (BMI), obesity, PCOS and tendency for type-2 diabetes.
- Cytochrome P450 (CYP): This gene has many variants like CYP1B1, CYP1A1, CYP17A and many more. Alteration in the CYP1B1 gene is responsible for increasing the synthesis of oestradiol. Oestradiol is one of the main estrogen hormones among females which plays a role in maturation and maintenance of the reproductive system. Similarly, CYP1A1 is known to increase the enzyme activity which participates in pathways responsible for the formation of reactive intermediates from environmental pro-carcinogen. Likewise, CYP17A plays role in the bioavailability of estrogen. Thus, any alterations in these genes can severely affect the hormonal balance leading to conditions like PCOS.
As mentioned above there exist more such genes that are evaluated to understand your tendency towards PCOS. The science where your genetic predisposition is studied and the subsequent conditions are managed by dietary intervention is known as Nutrigenomics. It involves a simple genetic test using either your saliva or blood sample to asses certain genes associated with the PCOS condition. A detailed genetic report is generated which is explained to you by the nutrigenomics counselor. The counselors evaluate both your genetic report and dietary habits to provide a personalized diet and exercise guidelines. The basic idea behind this type of management is using food as medicine to manage your conditions. The principle of managing health condition with the help of dietary habits has been postulated back in 400B.C by Hippocrates, who said: “Let Food Be Thy Medicine”. Since the nutrigenomics based diet and guidelines are prepared by studying and evaluating your genes, it gives you a highly personalized solution. This helps to manage the condition in a more targeted manner with long term effects and improved lifestyle.