Study uncovers genetics of motion sickness

February 3, 2015, 23andMe

23andMe, Inc. today announced the publication of the first ever genome-wide association study of motion sickness.

Published in Oxford Journals' Human Molecular Genetics, this study is the first to identify genetic variants associated with motion sickness, a condition that affects roughly one in three people. Motion sickness has been shown to have high heritability, meaning genetics accounts for a large part of why some are more prone to motion sickness than others. Estimates indicate that up to 70 percent of variation in risk for motion sickness is due to genetics.

"Until now there's been a poor understanding of the genetics of motion sickness, despite it being a fairly common condition," said 23andMe Scientist Bethann Hromatka, lead author of the study. "With the help of 23andMe customers we've been able to uncover some of the underlying genetics of this condition. These findings could help provide clues about the causes of motion sickness and other related conditions, and how to treat them, which is very exciting."

The study, which involved the consented participation of more than 80,000 23andMe customers, found 35 associated with motion sickness at a genome-wide significant level. Many of these factors, referred to as single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), are in or near genes involved in balance, and eye, ear, and cranial development (e.g., PVRL3, TSHZ1, MUTED, HOXB3, HOXD3). Other SNPs may affect motion sickness through nearby genes with roles in the nervous system, glucose homeostasis, or hypoxia. The study shows that several of these SNPs display sex-specific effects, with up to three times stronger effects in women.

The work also confirmed previously known links with other conditions, finding that people with motion sickness are more likely to have experienced migraines, vertigo, and as well as postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV). The study also found new phenotypic associations between motion sickness and as well as many gastrointestinal conditions. Two of these related conditions (PONV and migraines) were found to share underlying genetic factors with motion sickness.

The results point to the importance of the nervous system in motion sickness and suggest a role for glucose levels in motion-induced nausea and vomiting—a finding that may provide insight into other nausea-related like PONV. Because the study also identified associations between motion sickness and lifestyle—for instance, there is an association between being a poor sleeper and having a propensity for —the findings could also help researchers identify risk factors for the condition and future treatments.

Explore further: Novel chewing gum formulation helps prevent motion sickness

More information: Genetic variants associated with motion sickness point to roles for inner ear development, neurological processes, and glucose homeostasis. Bethann S. Hromatka; Joyce Y. Tung; Amy K. Kiefer; Chuong B. Do; David A. Hinds; Nicholas Eriksson Human Molecular Genetics 2015; DOI: 10.1093/hmg/ddv028

Reavley,C.M., Golding,J.F., Cherkas,L.F., Spector,T.D. and MacGregor,A.J. (2006) Genetic Influences on Motion Sickness Susceptibility in Adult Women: A Classical Twin Study. Aviat. Space Environ. Med., 77, 1148-1152.

Related Stories

Novel chewing gum formulation helps prevent motion sickness

October 17, 2012
A new prototype for medicated chewing gum has been developed for motion sickness that may offer many advantages over conventional oral solid dosage forms. About 33 percent of people are susceptible to motion sickness in mild ...

NASA signs agreement to develop nasal spray for motion sickness

October 15, 2012
NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston and Epiomed Therapeutics Inc. of Irvine, Calif., have signed an agreement to develop and commercialize a NASA-crafted, fast-acting nasal spray to fight motion sickness.

Monday's medical myth: Peanuts stop motion sickness

March 27, 2012
At the start of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, the ever-resourceful Ford Prefect buys four packets of salted peanuts, ostensibly to prevent motion sickness. We sometimes get them on flights too. But do they work or ...

New study shows how to eliminate motion sickness on tilting trains

August 4, 2011
An international team of researchers led by scientists at Mount Sinai School of Medicine have found that motion sickness on tilting trains can be essentially eliminated by adjusting the timing of when the cars tilt as they ...

Preemptive treatment of severe morning sickness decreases suffering for moms-to-be

February 11, 2013
`In a study to be presented on February 14 at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's annual meeting, The Pregnancy Meeting, in San Francisco, California, researchers will present data showing the effectiveness of preemptive ...

Recommended for you

Variants in non-coding DNA contribute to inherited autism risk

April 19, 2018
In recent years, researchers have firmly established that gene mutations appearing for the first time, called de novo mutations, contribute to approximately one-third of cases of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In a new study, ...

Researchers discover link between gene variation and language

April 18, 2018
What shapes the basic features of a language?

Natural selection still at work in humans

April 18, 2018
Evolution has shaped the human race, with University of Queensland researchers finding signatures of natural selection in the genome that influence traits associated with fertility and heart function.

Gene therapy for beta-thalassemia safe, effective in people

April 18, 2018
In a powerful example of bench-to-bedside science showing how observations made in the lab can spark life-altering therapies in clinic, an international team of clinician-investigators has announced that gene therapy for ...

Potential lines of attack against prostate cancer

April 17, 2018
Researchers from The University of East Anglia (UEA) have contributed to the world's largest study into genes that drive prostate cancer – identifying 80 molecular weaknesses that could be targeted by drugs to treat the ...

Epstein-Barr virus linked to seven serious diseases

April 16, 2018
A far-reaching study conducted by scientists at Cincinnati Children's reports that the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)—best known for causing mononucleosis—also increases the risks for some people of developing seven other major ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.