Background: Childhood cancer survivors are at increased risk of therapy-related premature menopause (PM), with a cumulative incidence of 8.0%, but the contribution of genetic factors is unknown.
Methods: Genome-wide association analyses were conducted to identify single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with clinically diagnosed PM (menopause < 40 years) among 799 female survivors of childhood cancer participating in the St. Jude Lifetime Cohort Study (SJLIFE). Analyses were adjusted for cyclophosphamide equivalent dose of alkylating agents and ovarian radiotherapy (RT) dose (all P values two-sided). Replication was performed using self-reported PM in 1624 survivors participating in the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study (CCSS).
Results: PM was clinically diagnosed in 30 (3.8%) SJLIFE participants. Thirteen SNPs (70 kb region of chromosome 4q32.1) upstream of the Neuropeptide Receptor 2 gene (NPY2R) were associated with PM prevalence (minimum P = 3.3 × 10-7 for rs9999820, all P < 10-5). Being a homozygous carrier of a haplotype formed by four of the 13 SNPs (seen in one in seven in the general population but more than 50% of SJLIFE clinically diagnosed PM) was associated with markedly elevated PM prevalence among survivors exposed to ovarian RT (odds ratio [OR] = 25.89, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 6.18 to 138.31, P = 8.2 × 10-6); this finding was replicated in an independent second cohort of CCSS in spite of its use of self-reported PM (OR = 3.97, 95% CI = 1.67 to 9.41, P = .002). Evidence from bioinformatics data suggests that the haplotype alters the regulation of NPY2R transcription, possibly affecting PM risk through neuroendocrine pathways.
Conclusions: The haplotype captures the majority of clinically diagnosed PM cases and, with further validation, may have clinical application in identifying the highest-risk survivors for PM for possible intervention by cryopreservation.