Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationIllinois, Urbana, U. of
Grant numberGr. 9370
Approve DateOctober 7, 2016
Project TitleRogers, Mary P., U. of Illinois, Urbana, IL - To aid research on 'Bridging Early Environment and Reproductive Traits: Epigenetic Patterns in Rural Polish and Polish American Women,' supervised by Dr. Kathryn Clancy
MARY P. ROGERS, then a graduate student at University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois, was awarded a grant in October 2016 to aid research on “Bridging Early Environment and Reproductive Traits: Epigenetic Patterns in Rural Polish and Polish American Women,” supervised by Dr. Kathryn Clancy. This research project aimed to expand current understanding of how environmental and genetic factors together affect reproductive traits by investigating epigenetic and environmental correlates of age at a girl’s first menses (menarche) and reproductive function in women from related ancestral backgrounds living in two different environments: Polish and Polish American women. Life history survey, reproductive hormone, and epigenetic data was collected from Polish (n=123) and Polish American (n=47) women between 2014-2017. The project found that ages at menarche have declined over time in Poland, which matches a trend seen globally. Ages at menarche were earlier for Polish American women, and there was a generational affect where second generation Polish Americans had the lowest average ages at menarche. This study further investigated gene methylation, an epigenetic mechanism which can change in response to environmental cues and affect gene expression. This project identified a pathway by which methylation at the gene CYP19A1 mediated a relationship between cortisol concentrations and urinary estradiol metabolites. Overall, the results of this research underscore that reproductive function is sensitive to environmental conditions experienced throughout development and that that epigenetic traits like gene methylation may provide a piece of the lacking intermediate structure linking stress and reproductive traits.