A research study led by the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Exeter, and Boston University School of Medicine, in collaboration with a global consortium, has identified genetic markers that influence a protein involved in regulating oestrogen and testosterone levels in the bloodstream.
The results, published online in PLoS Genetics, also reveal that some of the genetic markers for this protein are near genes related to liver function, metabolism and type 2 diabetes, demonstrating an important genetic connection between the metabolic and reproductive systems in men and women.
The study was carried out in collaboration with the Framingham Heart Study and investigators from 15 international epidemiologic studies participating in the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genetic Epidemiology (CHARGE) consortium.
Sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) is the key protein that carries testosterone and oestrogen in the bloodstream in both men and women. As the main carrier of these sex hormones, SHBG helps to regulate their effects in different tissues and organs in the body. In addition to effects on reproduction in men and women through regulation of sex hormones, SHBG has been linked to many chronic diseases including type 2 diabetes and hormone-sensitive cancers such as breast and prostate.