The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

The impact of variation in the progesterone receptor gene, life history and lifestyle on endometrial function and the menstrual cycle


1Anthropology, Temple University, 2Radiology, Temple University, 3Obstetrics and Gynecology, Temple University, 4Center for Substance Abuse Research, Temple University

Friday 2:15-2:30, Galleria North Add to calendar

Interest in women’s reproductive variation within the subfield of Physical Anthropology known as Human Reproductive Ecology is dominated by energetic models for fecundity that seldom consider genetic variation as a potential cause of differences in reproduction. A polymorphism in the progesterone receptor gene, called PROGINS, shows diminished progesterone response in vitro and is associated with several uterine disorders in women. We screened healthy Philadelphia women (N=94, aged 20-45 with no oral contraceptive use < 3mo prior to enrollment) for the PROGINS variant. Eighteen PROGINS carriers and 34 non-carriers recorded menstrual diaries and physical activity data over 3 menstrual cycles. In the third menstrual cycle daily saliva samples were collected and subjects had transvaginal ultrasound to measure mid-luteal endometrial thickness. We also assessed evidence for gene-environment interactions between the PROGINS variant and other factors such as salivary progesterone, anthropometric measures, physical activity, age, and age at menarche using moderated regression techniques. While endometrial thickness did not differ between the two groups, PROGINS carriers had luteal phases that were 2.1 days shorter than those of non-carriers (p=0.016). PROGINS also modified the relationships between menstrual cycle length and mean mid-luteal progesterone, anthropometric measures and physical activity. Further, PROGINS modified the relationship between endometrial thickness and BMI. These findings indicate that PROGINS alters endometrial sensitivity not only to progesterone, but also to acute and chronic energetic stress. Our results suggest that Human Reproductive Ecologists will benefit by incorporating genetically-based variation in sensitivity to energetic stress in future adaptive models of women’s reproduction.

This research was supported by NSF DDIG # 0824567 and a Wenner-Gren Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Fieldwork Grant.

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