Reproductive effort and aging
Life-history theory predicts trade-offs between reproduction and other functions of the organism, thus we expect that women with high fertility should have poor health and shorter lives. However, while some studies investigating relationships between fertility and health, or fertility and lifespan indeed point to the detrimental effects of high reproductive efforts, other studies show the lack of any effect, or even document better health in women with many children.

In our study we are using a comprehensive assessment of lifetime reproductive effort and the health of women. We investigate many aspects of aging, including immune function and cognitive function. We also look at the polymorphism of genes that may have an antagonistic pleiotropic effect on traits related to reproduction and health.

Jasienska G, Ellison PT, Galbarczyk A, Jasienski M, Kalemba-Drozdz M, Kapiszewska M, Nenko I, Thune I, Ziomkiewicz A. 2015. Apolipoprotein E (ApoE) polymorphism is related to differences in potential fertility in women: a case of antagonistic pleiotropy? Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences 282: 20142395

Nenko I & Jasienska G. 2013. First birth interval, an indicator of energetic status, is a predictor of reproductive strategy. American Journal of Human Biology 25: 78-82

Prenatal origins of health and fertility
Hypotheses of “fetal programming” and “predictive adaptive response” suggest that prenatal conditions influence health and reproduction of individuals. In our studies we test various biomarkers (for example 2D:4D digit ratio) of fetal environment and attempt to determine if these biomarkers correlate with biological condition of children and adults.

Klimek M, Galbarczyk A, Colleran H, Thune I, Ellison PT, Ziomkiewicz A, Jasienska G. Digit ratio (2D:4D) does not correlate with daily 17β–estradiol and progesterone concentrations in healthy women of reproductive age. American Journal of Human Biology 27: 667–673

Klimek M, Galbarczyk A, Nenko I, Alvarado LC, Jasienska G. 2014. Digit ratio (2D:4D) as an indicator of body size, testosterone concentration and number of children in human males. Annals of Human Biology 41: 518-523

Jasienska G, Ziomkiewicz A, Lipson SF, Thune I, Ellison PT. 2006. High ponderal index at birth predicts high estradiol levels in adult women. American Journal of Human Biology 18: 133-140

Jasienska G, Lipson SF, Ellison PT, Thune I, Ziomkiewicz A. 2006. Symmetrical women have higher potential fertility. Evolution & Human Behavior 27: 390-400

Jasienska G, Thune I, Ellison PT. 2006. Fatness at birth predicts adult susceptibility to ovarian suppression: an empirical test of the “Predictive Adaptive Response” hypothesis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 34: 12759-62

Hormones and human sexual preference
It is a 3 year long post-doctoral plan that focuses on correlations between physiological measures of sex steroid hormones and multiple components of sexual preferences of humans. Project is conducted in rural area in South-East Poland. Hormonal levels of women are measured throughout the cycle and all participants fill in surveys measuring their prefernces towards multitude of features that are said to influence attractiveness (including similarity to self, family members, sexual dimorphism, symmetry). Another dimension of the project is creating a database of facial pictures of women with measured hormonal profiles and, based on that, better understanding of how long and short-term hormonal fluctuations influence attractiveness.

Grandparents and reproduction
Humans are cooperative breeders, which means that not only parents but also other relatives are often involved in childcare and influence parental decisions about having children. Kin selection theory suggests that such involvement evolved because it increases the inclusive fitness of relatives.
We investigate whether the presence and help provided by grandparents influences fertility and other reproductive characteristics of families. We are testing predictions that maternal and paternal grandparents should have different impacts on the reproduction of their children.

Lifestyle and reproductive physiology
in collaboration with Prof. Peter Ellison, Harvard University, USA and Prof. Inger Thune, University of Tromsø and Ullevål Hospital, Norway

Levels of reproductive steroid hormones (estradiol and progesterone in women and testosterone in men), even when measured in healthy people, vary substantially between populations, individuals and within the same person. Because these hormones are important for fertility and many aspects of health, it is important to understand the factors that are responsible for their production and metabolism.
We have identified many determinants of levels of reproductive hormones, including physical activity, size at birth, body symmetry and cytochrome genes. These findings have practical implications for the prevention and treatment of fertility problems and breast cancer.

Pawlowski B & Jasienska G. 2008. Women’s body morphology and preferences for sexual partners’ characteristics. Evolution & Human Behavior 29: 19-25

Ziomkiewicz A, Ellison PT, Lipson SF, Thune I, Jasienska G. 2008. Body fat, energy balance and estradiol levels: a study based on hormonal profiles from complete menstrual cycles. Human Reproduction 23: 2555-2563

Jasienska G, Kapiszewska M, Ellison PT, Kalemba M, Nenko I, Thune I, Ziomkiewicz A. 2006. CYP17 genotypes differ in salivary 17-ß estradiol levels: a study based on hormonal profiles from entire menstrual cycles. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention 15: 2131-2135

Jasienska G, Ziomkiewicz A, Thune I, Lipson SF, Ellison PT. 2006. Habitual physical activity and estradiol levels in women of reproductive age. European Journal of Cancer Prevention 15: 439-445

Kapiszewska M, Miskiewicz M, Ellison PT, Thune I, Jasienska G. 2006. High tea consumption diminishes the salivary 17b-estradiol concentration. British Journal of Nutrition 95: 989-995

Jasienska G, Ziomkiewicz A, Górkiewicz M, Pajak A. 2005. Body mass, depressive symptoms and menopausal status: an examination of the “Jolly Fat” hypothesis”. Women’s Health Issues 15: 145-151

Pawlowski B & Jasienska G. 2005. Woman’s preferences for sexual dimorphism in height depend on menstrual cycle phase and expected duration of relationship. Biological Psychology 70: 38-43

Furberg AS, Jasienska G., Bjurstam N, Torjesen PA, Emaus A, Lipson SF, Ellison PT, Thune I. 2005. Metabolic and hormonal profiles: HDL cholesterol as a plausible biomarker of breast cancer risk. The Norwegian EBBA study. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention 14: 33-40

Jasienska G & Ellison PT. 2004. Energetic factors and seasonal changes in ovarian function in women from rural Poland. American Journal of Human Biology 16: 563-580

Jasienska G, Ziomkiewicz A, Ellison PT, Lipson SF, Thune I. 2004. Large breasts and narrow waists indicate high reproductive potential in women. Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences 271: 1213-1217