New research may offer some hope to women whose fertility has been compromised by the side-effects of cancer therapy or by premature menopause.
In a new study, researchers from Monash University and Prince Henry's Institute of Medical Research found that two proteins, PUMA and NOXA, cause the death of egg cells in the ovaries.
Blocking the activity of the proteins may lead to new strategies to protect women's fertility.
They focused their studies on primordial follicle oocytes, egg cells which provide each woman's lifetime supply of eggs. Low numbers of these egg cells can also cause early menopause.
Associate Professor Clare Scott, an oncologist at The Royal Melbourne and Royal Women's hospitals, said their research showed that when the DNA of egg cells is damaged following exposure to radiation or chemotherapy, PUMA and NOXA trigger the death of the damaged eggs, leading to infertility in many female cancer patients. "PUMA and NOXA can trigger cell death, and have been found to be necessary for the death of many different cell types in response to DNA damage. This removal of damaged cells is a natural process that is essential to maintaining health but, for women undergoing cancer treatment, can be devastating when it leads to infertility."
Associate Professor Jeffrey Kerr from Monash said that when these egg-producing cells were missing the PUMA protein they did not die after being exposed to radiation therapy. "This might ordinarily be cause for concern because you want damaged egg cells to die so as not to produce abnormal offspring. To our great surprise we found that not only did the cells survive being irradiated, they were able to repair the DNA damage they had sustained and could be ovulated and fertilised, producing healthy offspring. When the cells were also missing the NOXA protein, there was even better protection against radiation."
Future treatments could block the function of PUMA, preventing egg cell death in patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation.
Professor Jock Findlay, head of the Female Reproductive Biology Group at Prince Henry's Institute of Medical Research, said the study could also have implications for delaying menopause. "We know that the timing of menopause is influenced by how many egg cells a female has. Interventions that slow the loss of egg cells from the ovaries could delay premature menopause, prolonging female fertility, such a treatment could have the potential to reduce menopause-associated health conditions, such as osteoporosis and heart disease."
Published in Molecular Cell
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Kudos To "The Independent" Newspaper For Debunking Nibiru "Blood Moon" Hoax
- USDA Microbiologist Warns Bacteria In Vaping Products May Be A Health Concern
- Your Microbiome Did Not Cause Your Weight Problem
- 20 Cent School Intervention Stops Unhealthy Weight Gain In Children
- Control Cancer By Making The Tumor Cell Environment Hostile
- Sudden Death In Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy - The Exercise Didn't Do It
- A Great Blitz Game
- "Kent - thanks, glad to have helped :)...."
- "Robert- Thank you for your patience and insight on this matter. I had just heard about this apocalyptic..."
- "Michael (reader who just commented) - I hid your comment as spam for trolling. I have a no trolling..."
- "Hi Robert. Thank you for responding to my comment and the information you kindly provided. I consider..."
- "Yes, it's just totally silly and no-one with a decent background in astronomy would give it any..."
- Breast Cancer: Genomics May Show Where Chemo Might Not Be Needed
- Gallup Poll: Great Example of How to Bias a Social Science Study
- Another Kardashian Craze Debunked
- Fad Friday: Ditch The Body Wrap!
- Commonly Cited Stat of 10 Bacteria for Every 1 Human Cell Is Wrong
- Why The EpiPen And Other Generic Drugs Are So Expensive
- Heart failure in the elderly set to triple by 2060
- Up to 80 percent of heart failure patients denied therapy to reduce hospitalization and death
- Increased risk of death for heart failure patients with each NHS hospital admission
- Nebivolol prevents anthracycline-induced cardiotoxicity
- Traffic accidents increased by 50 percent in patients with implantable cardioverter defibrillator