August 05, 2014

Obstetrics, Gynecology researchers receive prestigious award

Written by
holly richterThe American Urogynecologic Society and the International Urogynecological Association have honored the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology for work in the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development-sponsored Pelvic Floor Disorders Network, with the 2014 Best Paper in Basic Science award.

The award is given annually and was presented at the AUGS/IUGA Scientific Meeting.

“It is a great honor for the PFDN, our division and our department to be selected for producing the best basic science paper at our biggest national meeting, which is combined with one of the international organizations,” said Holly Richter, Ph.D., M.D., the J. Marion Sims Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and director of the Division of Urogynecology and Pelvic Reconstructive Surgery. “Basic science research is important as it complements findings of clinical research initiatives. Physicians can better optimize treatment approaches if we understand the reasons that these conditions develop, and genetic information can help us more fully understand this.”

Richter was the lead author on the paper “Genetic Contributions to Urgency Urinary Incontinence in Women,” whose co-authors included Nedra Whitehead, Ph.D. (RTI, Atlanta, Ga.), Beri Ridgeway, M.D. (Cleveland Clinic), Kristina Allen-Brady, Ph.D. (University of Utah), Peggy Norton, M.D. (University of Utah), Vivian Sung, M.D. (Brown University), Jonathan Shepherd, M.D. (Magee-Womens, Pittsburgh), Yuko Komesu, M.D. (University of New Mexico), Nathan Gaddis, Ph.D. (RTI, Atlanta, Ga.), Matthew Fraser, Ph.D. (Duke University), Susan Meikle, M.D. (NICHD), and Grier Page, Ph.D. (RTI, Atlanta, Ga.).

Urgency urinary incontinence is a lower urinary tract condition which causes women to feel a strong desire to go to the bathroom but be unable to get there in time. It occurs increasingly as women age and can be managed by behavioral therapy, medications and surgery.

The authors hypothesized that UUI has a genetic component. They used a Women’s Health Initiative database, where the genotypes of women ages 50 and older were determined to compare the genetic characteristics in women with UUI symptoms to those of women without UUI symptoms, using a standard genomewide association approach.

A meta-analysis identified four regions on chromosomes 5, 11, 12 and 18 highly associated with urgency urinary incontinence.

Although environmental factors also likely contribute, multiple associated single nucleotide polymorphisms in the ZFP521 and ADAMTS16 genes suggest that genetic factors may contribute to the development of UUI.

Richter says her research team will use the information gathered to target improvements in treatment modalities and ultimately prevent this condition.

“We need to validate these findings in other large cohorts, and this research will facilitate increased collaborative efforts in this regard,” Richter said.