Female reproductive aging is master-planned at the level of ovary

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The ovary receives a finite pool of follicles during fetal life. Atresia remains the major form of follicular expenditure at all stages since development of ovary. The follicular reserve, however, declines at an exponential rate leading to accelerated rate of decay during the years preceding menopause. We examined if diminished follicle reserve that characterizes ovarian aging impacts the attrition rate. Premature ovarian aging was induced in rats by intra-embryonic injection of galactosyltransferase-antibody on embryonic day 10. On post-natal day 35 of the female litters, either a wedge of fat (sham control) or a wild type ovary collected from 25-day old control rats, was transplanted under the ovarian bursa in both sides. Follicular growth and atresia, and ovarian microenvironment were evaluated in the follicle-deficient host ovary and transplanted ovary by real time RT-PCR analysis of growth differentiation factor-9, bone morphogenetic protein 15, and kit ligand, biochemical evaluation of ovarian lipid peroxidation, superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase activity, and western blot analysis of ovarian pro- and anti-apoptotic factors including p53, bax, bcl2, and caspase 3. Results demonstrated that the rate of follicular atresia, which was highly preponderant in the follicle-deficient ovary of the sham-operated group, was significantly prevented in the presence of the transplanted ovary. As against the follicle-deficient ovary of the sham-operated group, the follicle-deficient host ovary as well as the transplanted ovary in the ovary-transplanted group exhibited stimulated follicle growth with increased expression of anti-apoptotic factors and down regulation of pro-apoptotic factors. Both the host and transplanted ovaries also had significantly lower rate of lipid peroxidation with increased SOD and catalase activity. We conclude that the declining follicular reserve is perhaps the immediate thrust that increases the rate of follicle depletion during the final phase of ovarian life when the follicle reserve wanes below certain threshold size.




Banerjee, S., Banerjee, S., Saraswat, G., Bandyopadhyay, S. A., & Kabir, S. N. (2014). Female reproductive aging is master-planned at the level of ovary. PLoS ONE, 9(5). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0096210

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