There are major gaps in knowledge regarding the etiologic mechanisms, psychosocial effects, natural history, and medical and psychosocial management of primary ovarian insufficiency. An international research consortium and disease registry formed under the guidance of an umbrella organization would provide a pathway to comprehensively increase basic and clinical knowledge about the condition. Such a consortium and patient registry also would provide clinical samples and clinical data with a goal toward defining the specific pathogenic mechanisms. An international collaborative approach that combines the structure of a patient registry with the principles of integrative care and community-based participatory research is needed to advance the field of primary ovarian insufficiency. The program is in the early phases of organizing an such an international effort using fragile X associated primary ovarian insufficiency (FXPOI) as the primary focus. Osteoporosis primarily affects postmenopausal women. However, young women with estrogen deficiency also are at increased risk for low bone density. We assessed bone density and associated risk factors for reduced bone density in young, estrogen-deficient women using primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) as the disease model. We conducted a cross-sectional study at a tertiary care research center. We studied 442 women with POI, 70 concurrent control women, and 353 matched controls from the NHANES III study. We measured bone mineral density (BMD) using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. Patients on average had 2-3% lower BMD at L1-L4, femoral neck, and total hip. The statistically significant modifiable risk factors for BMD below the expected range for age (Z-score <-2) were: more than 1-yr delay in diagnosis of the associated estrogen deficiency, low (<32 ng/ml) vitamin D levels, estrogen replacement nonadherence, low calcium intake, and lack of exercise. As compared to Caucasians, African-American and Asian women with POI were 3.18 and 4.34 times more likely, respectively, to have Z-scores below -2. Race was an overall risk factor, but on regression modeling, not an independent predictor of low bone density. From this work we conclude that women with POI have lower bone density compared to regularly menstruating control women. Compared to Caucasians, minority women with estrogen deficiency are more likely to have BMD below the expected range for age. This racial disparity appears to be related to a combined effect of several modifiable risk factors. Delay in diagnosis of POI also contributes to reduced bone density by delaying proper therapy. We also examined factors associated with emotional well-being in women with spontaneous primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) using a cross-sectional and case-control study. We studied 100 women diagnosed with spontaneous 46,XX POI at a mean age of 32.4 years and 60 healthy control women of similar age by administering validated self-reporting psychosocial instruments. The main outcome measures of our study were illness uncertainty, stigma, goal disengagement/re-engagement, purpose in life, positive and negative affect, depression, and anxiety. Compared with controls, women with spontaneous POI scored adversely on all measures of affect. Illness uncertainty and purpose in life were significant independent factors associated with anxiety;stigma and purpose in life were the significant independent factors associated with depression;and goal re-engagement and purpose in life were significantly and independently associated with positive affect. This evidence supports the need for prospective studies. Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that clinicians could improve the emotional well-being of their patients with POI by 1 informing them better about their condition, 2 helping them to feel less stigmatized by the disorder, and 3 assisting them in developing alternative goals with regard to family planning as well as other goals. We also tested the hypothesis that women with spontaneous POI differ from control women with regard to perceived social support and investigated the relationship between perceived social support and self-esteem. We studied 154 women diagnosed with spontaneous POI at a mean age of 27 years and 63 healthy control women. We found that women with POI had significantly lower scores than controls on both the perceived social support scale and the self-esteem scale. The findings remained significant after modeling with multivariate regression for differences in age, marital status, and having children. There was a significant positive correlation between self-esteem scores and perceived social support in patients. We found no significant differences in perceived social support or self-esteem related to marital status, whether or not the women had children, or time since diagnosis. This evidence supports the need for prospective controlled studies. Strategies to improve social support and self-esteem might provide a therapeutic approach to reduce the emotional suffering that accompanies the life-altering diagnosis of spontaneous POI. We studied the psychosocial implications for teens that develop POI and their parents. The normal developmental tasks and roles of adolescence are altered by a diagnosis of a reproductive disorder. The crisis of impaired fertility affects both parent and child, stressing the family system. For the adolescent girl, a reproductive disorder has an impact on her developing sense of self, body-image, and sexuality, which, in turn, can affect her self-esteem and relationships with others. Because of the sexual nature of a reproductive disorder, feelings of embarrassment or protectiveness are often engendered that can make it difficult for families to discuss. Nonetheless, families do best with openness and honesty regarding the condition and should be discouraged from keeping the diagnosis a secret. Adolescence encompasses a broad spectrum of emotional maturity, which needs to be considered by parents and clinicians when communicating information. Understanding that the family is an emotional unit, a family systems approach to deal with health issues is most appropriate. In this context, parents need to first deal with their own feelings about the diagnosis, before they can help their child. Secondly, parents must be provided with tools to build an ongoing conversation with their child that will avoid stigmatizing her condition and handicapping her growth into healthy adulthood. The goal for parent and clinician is to help the adolescent girl formulate positive self-esteem and body image, despite impaired fertility. As part of an international collaboration we investigated the genetic mechanisms of POI. Bone morphogenetic protein-15 (BMP15) is selectively synthesized by oocytes as a pre-proprotein and is considered an ovarian follicle organizer whose adequate function is critical for female fertility. Missense mutations were reported in POI but their biological impact remained unexplored. Here, screening of 300 unrelated women with idiopathic overt POI. This led to the identification of six heterozygous BMP15 variations in 29 of them. All alterations were nonconservative and included one insertion of three nucleotides (p.L262_L263insL) and five missense substitutions. Functional findings support the concept that an adequate amount of BMP15 secreted in the follicular fluid is critical for female fertility. We are also investigating methods that might improve fertility in women with POI. We found that a regimen of 100 microgram per day of transdermal estradiol replacement achieves normal serum LH levels in approximately one-half of women with spontaneous POI. Theoretically, physiologic estradiol replacement therapy might improve follicle function in these women. We are planning controlled studies.

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Landegren, Nils; Sharon, Donald; Freyhult, Eva et al. (2016) Proteome-wide survey of the autoimmune target repertoire in autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome type 1. Sci Rep 6:20104
Sarrel, Philip M; Sullivan, Shannon D; Nelson, Lawrence M (2016) Hormone replacement therapy in young women with surgical primary ovarian insufficiency. Fertil Steril 106:1580-1587
Sullivan, Shannon D; Sarrel, Philip M; Nelson, Lawrence M (2016) Hormone replacement therapy in young women with primary ovarian insufficiency and early menopause. Fertil Steril 106:1588-1599
Driscoll, Mary A; Davis, Mary C; Aiken, Leona S et al. (2016) Psychosocial Vulnerability, Resilience Resources, and Coping with Infertility: A Longitudinal Model of Adjustment to Primary Ovarian Insufficiency. Ann Behav Med 50:272-84
Gordon, Catherine M; Kanaoka, Tsuzuki; Nelson, Lawrence M (2015) Update on primary ovarian insufficiency in adolescents. Curr Opin Pediatr 26:511-9
Guerrieri, Gioia M; Martinez, Pedro E; Klug, Summer P et al. (2014) Effects of physiologic testosterone therapy on quality of life, self-esteem, and mood in women with primary ovarian insufficiency. Menopause 21:952-61
Joachim, C M; Eads, C M; Persani, L et al. (2014) An open letter to the primary ovarian insufficiency community. Minerva Ginecol 66:519-20
Popat, Vaishali B; Calis, Karim A; Kalantaridou, Sophia N et al. (2014) Bone mineral density in young women with primary ovarian insufficiency: results of a three-year randomized controlled trial of physiological transdermal estradiol and testosterone replacement. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 99:3418-26
Falorni, A; Minarelli, V; Eads, C M et al. (2014) A clinical research integration special program (CRISP) for young women with primary ovarian insufficiency. Panminerva Med 56:245-61
Nelson, Lawrence M (2014) The Flat Earth Society: a rose by any other name? Hum Reprod 29:190-2

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