On average, women undergo menopause at the age of 51. However, early menopause ,which can occur between the ages of 40 and 45, and in some cases before the age of 40, has been associated with environmental exposures and genetic causes.
Previous research into the genetics of early menopause suggested that errors in genes for genome maintenance and DNA repair could be involved. Other research has proposed that an increased rate of death of ovarian follicles can deplete the reserve of follicles, thus causing early menopause.
An article in Human Reproduction by Dr Ray Rodgers at the Robinson Research Institute and Dr Joop Laven from Erasmus University Rotterdam proposes a new mechanism by which genetic changes in a specific region of the ovary could lead to follicle death. The researchers propose a link between genetic changes known to be associated with premature menopause, and those known to be involved in follicle degeneration (atresia). These findings support the concept that more follicles are likely to die in women who have less effective genes for genome maintenance. This in turn could lead to an earlier depletion in follicle reserves and ultimately to early menopause.
This new concept of follicle depletion will direct research that could ultimately lead to the development of novel strategies to prevent follicle depletion and early menopause.
Find the article here
Written by Antoinette Lam and Liza O’Donnell