Premature aging of the ovaries only occurs in one percent of women, however, between the ages of 30 and 35 a process of natural quantitative and qualitative deterioration of the eggs begins, which accelerates between the ages of 35 and 40 and , especially, after 40; According to the scientists of the MARGen clinic in Granada, led by Dr. Jan Tesarik and Dr. Raquel Mendoza-Tesarik.
In this sense, both researchers highlight that, according to data from the National Institute of Statistics (INE), in Spain motherhood is increasingly delayed. Thus, in 1980, the average age at which the first child was born was 28 years and today it is 35. «The growing trend of having children at older ages justifies the interest in analyzing the causes of natural aging (normal age) and look for the possibilities of moderating its impact on female fertility ”, say the scientists.
That is why, in an article recently published in the magazine «International Journal of Molecular Sciences», both scientists seek solutions to this problem through an in-depth analysis of the ovarian aging phenomenon, identifying the genes and molecular mechanisms potentially involved.
Its objective is to guide the work of scientists active in different fields of research related to cellular aging, giving them elements to deepen in search of long-term solutions. In parallel, the authors review the therapeutic possibilities currently available, especially to combat oxidative stress, the main cause of egg aging.
As experts assure, in most cases, ovarian aging is caused by oxidative stress, accentuated by a progressive decrease in the activity of the genes involved in cellular defenses against this phenomenon. In this condition, the oxidative damage produced in different types of ovarian cells creates a “vicious circle”, according to the authors, involving modulations of the immune system and inflammation that, in turn, further deteriorate antioxidative defenses.
All cells use inhaled oxygen in respiration and transform it into reactive oxygen species with oxidative activity, called free radicals, which are essential for the body’s energy balance, since they generate energy necessary for a variety of vital processes. Once its function is fulfilled, free radicals are eliminated by antioxidant substances. In healthy cells there is a balance between the generation, use and elimination of free radicals. When the intracellular amount of antioxidant substances is insufficient to inactivate free radicals, they accumulate in the cell producing the so-called oxidative stress.
However, the excess of free radicals leads to oxidative damage in different structural elements of the affected cell, causing a progressive deterioration of its function and, if the condition persists, its death. That is exactly what happens in the ovaries during aging, both natural and premature. The growth and maturation of the ovules depends on the correct functioning of different types of ovarian cells, which produce the steroid hormones and nutrients necessary for their development. If the function of these cells is disturbed due to oxidative stress, the eggs suffer and degenerate.
What to do against oxidative stress
According to the article by the Granada scientists, there are two possibilities to deal with oxidative stress. The first is to supply the cells with antioxidant-rich substances from the outside with foods rich in antioxidants, for example, red fruits, vegetables and legumes or whole grains, which can be useful as prevention.
However, in most women who already show signs of ovarian aging, the dietary intake may be insufficient to cover the existing deficiencies. Therefore the use of drugs with direct antioxidants, such as melatonin, vitamins C and E, coenzyme Q10 and folic acid, is advisable.
The second is to reactivate the production chain of antioxidant substances in the same cells affected by oxidative stress through hormonal treatment (indirect antioxidants). Thus, it is, above all, growth hormone and melatonin. “The latter is particularly interesting in this indication since it combines the activities of indirect antioxidant, direct antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulator”, as the researchers express.
According to doctors Tesarik and Mendoza-Tesarik, «it is not yet possible to act directly on the genes responsible for ovarian aging, but it is possible moderate the consequences of aging for the function of ovarian cells “, they point out. In this sense, they add, it is necessary to analyze various aspects of ovarian aging in each woman to develop the therapeutic plan best adapted to her condition.
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