Washington: A female’s fertility clock usually stops ticking around the age of 44, but now, a recent study has suggested that anti-inflammatory drugs can come to the rescue of older women.
Women’s decreased ability to produce healthy eggs as they become older may be due to excessive scarring and inflammation in their ovaries, reported the Northwestern Medicine study in mice.
This is the first study to show the ovarian environment ages and that aging affects the quality of eggs it produces. These findings could result in new treatments that preserve fertility by delaying ovarian aging.
Scientists examined the reproductive age-related changes that occur in the environment in which the eggs develop, known as the ovarian stroma. The environment in which cells grow and develop can greatly influence their quality and function, but surprisingly little is known about how the ovarian stroma changes with age.
“Under the microscope, eggs from reproductively young and old animals may look identical, but the environment in which they are growing is completely different,” said lead author Francesca Duncan. “Ovaries from reproductively old mice are fibrotic and inflamed. There is no way this environment won’t impact the eggs growing in it and it very likely contributes to their decrease in quality.”
“Our work establishes fibrosis and inflammation as hallmarks of the aging ovary and lays the foundation for considering the use of anti-fibrotic or anti-inflammatory treatments to delay or counteract the impact of reproductive aging,” said Duncan.
The findings have broader implications for women’s health because ovarian fibrosis is a key feature of polycystic ovary syndrome, a common endocrine system disorder among women of reproductive age, and is also a consequence of chemotherapy and radiation, Duncan said.
The study will be published in the journal Reproduction.