Evaluation of inflammation and follicle depletion during ovarian ageing in mice

Carolina Lliberos, Seng H. Liew, Pirooz Zareie, Nicole L. La Gruta, Ashley Mansell, Karla Hutt

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38 Citations (Scopus)


Reproductive ageing in females is defined by a progressive decline in follicle number and oocyte quality. This is a natural process that leads to the loss of fertility and ovarian function, cycle irregularity and eventually menopause or reproductive senescence. The factors that underlie the natural depletion of follicles throughout reproductive life are poorly characterised. It has been proposed that inflammatory processes and fibrosis might contribute to ovarian ageing. To further investigate this possibility, we evaluated key markers of inflammation and immune cell populations in the ovaries of 2, 6, 12 and 18-month-old C57BL/6 female mice. We report that the decrease in follicle numbers over the reproductive lifespan was associated with an increase in the intra-ovarian percentage of CD4 + T cells, B cells and macrophages. Serum concentration and intra-ovarian mRNA levels of several pro-inflammatory cytokines, including IL-1α/β, TNF-α, IL-6, and inflammasome genes ASC and NLRP3, were significantly increased with age. Fibrosis levels, as determined by picrosirius red staining for collagen I and III, were unchanged up to 18 months of age. Collectively, these data suggest that inflammation could be one of the mechanisms responsible for the age-related regulation of follicle number, but the role of fibrosis is unclear. Further studies are now required to determine if there is a causative relationship between inflammation and follicle depletion as females age.

Original languageEnglish
Article number278
Number of pages15
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jan 2021

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