Gender dysphoria: Worldwide exacerbation, prevalence, and the impact of GnRH treatment on brain development – an investigation in a human and animal model (CONOS)

Investigators: Ira Haraldsen, Walter Bockting, Per Magnus, Tone Maria Hansen, Will Mellman

Collaborators: CHTD-OUH, University of Oslo, Columbia University, Norwegian Institute of Public Health

Gender nonconforming children and adolescents present at clinics worldwide in significantly increasing numbers (total only in Norway > 400 referrals per year since 2014). However, the true prevalence of gender dysphoria (GD) is unknown. Most request access to early medical intervention to alleviate GD, starting with the suppression of puberty through the use of Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone Analogues (GnRH-A) as early as the onset of puberty, i.e. Tanner development stage II. The evidence base for this treatment is currently very limited. The National Academy of Medicine of the American National Academies of Sciences and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have called for innovative research to develop evidence-based treatments to meet this emerging, urgent need of this underserved and understudied new patient population. Therefore, we established the CONOS Initiative; a collaboration between Columbia University (CU), the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH), Oslo University (UiO) and Oslo University Hospital (OUH), which aims to enlighten research on GD and its treatment through GnRH blockage.

This research project is a systematic and translational study of GD. First, we will investigate prevalence and predictors of GD using the MoBa data, second, through a prospective cohort study of children and adolescents with GD we will investigate the effects of GnRH-A treatment on brain development, and third, we will investigate the molecular mechanisms of GnRH, as well as of aging in general, through an animal model study of rodents.

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