Animal, Dairy, and Veterinary Sciences
Mentor: Dr. Jeff Mason
Germ Cell-Depleted Ovaries Increase Lifespan and Restore Health
In many species, including humans, a decline in reproductive ability is associated with many deleterious health conditions. Some species maintain reproductive ability throughout life, and reproductive decline is often associated with the end of life. Ovary function seems to be correlated in longevity. Previous studies suggest that preserved ovarian function is correlated with increased mean lifespan; however, the role of the germ cells within the ovary is not well understood. To investigate the relationship between role of germ cells and somatic cells and their role in expanding longevity, this project measured the life span of 17-month-old mice that received either germ cell-containing ovaries or germ cell-depleted (somatic-only) ovaries.
In this experiment, young, germ cell-containing and germ cell depleted ovaries from 60-day-old mice were transplanted into 17-month-old mice. Lifespan was then observed and contrasted with the mean life span in this line of female mice (644 days). In the recipient mice that possessed germ cell-containing ovaries, life span increased by 10%. However, when germ cells were depleted from young ovaries prior to transplantation, lifespan increased by 21%. Aspects of health were also evaluated, such as metabolic activity, muscle composition, and strength, and were seen to improve.
These results suggest that somatic cells have a major role in longevity. While germ cell-depleted ovaries lacked germ cells, the somatic cells remained intact and functional. This may indicate that somatic cell function is necessary within ovaries to produce and increase in health as seen with other studies. From these results, germ cell depletion can be concluded to significantly increase lifespan within our mice subjects. Germ cell-depleted ovaries lead to increased lifespan and health. Further experiments can be done in order to analyze ovary effect on longevity. Current experiments are being conducted to analyze in what ways ovaries influence longevity and overall health.