A molecular trigger of puberty has been identified and shown to wake up reproductive hormones from childhood hibernation in animals.
Little is known about what causes puberty to begin, and how reproductive hormones can go into hiding for about 12 years after birth and then reemerge.
“Puberty is critical to human development,” says Tony Plant of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “While there is a fairly good understanding of how the endocrine system regulates the hormones involved, just how and when the brain activates this process has been a great mystery.”
Understanding the brain biology behind puberty, says Plant, could help prevent children from experience early or delayed puberty.