Life History Theory proposes that, when metabolic energy availability is limited, trade-offs ensue amongst growth, maintenance, development, and reproductive tasks. Thus, we hypothesize that limited energy availability resulting from chronic inflammation should create a trade-off between immune function and reproductive maturation, leading to a delay in the maturation of the female reproductive system. We assessed reproductive hormone profiles (follicle-stimulating hormone, estrogen, and progesterone) and inflammation status (using C-reactive protein and interleukin-1β as biomarkers) of 20 Guatemalan girls in 2013 (before menarche) and in 2017 (after menarche). We observed an average delay of 15 months (95% confidence interval [5.8, 24.1]) of menarche in girls with chronic inflammation compared to girls with no inflammation. However, our results did not provide evidence that chronic inflammation affected cycle length or ovulation frequency. This study aims to contribute to filling the gap in our understanding of the biological effects of low-grade immunological challenges, such as chronic inflammation, on girls’ reproductive maturation process.
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Thesis advisor: Nepomnaschy, Pablo
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