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Maturitas. 2010 Sep;67(1):7-14. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2010.03.028. Epub 2010 Apr 28.

Reproductive aging and risk for chronic disease: Insights from studies of nonhuman primates.

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  • 1Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Department of Pathology (Comparative Medicine), Wake Forest University Primate Center, Winston-Salem, NC 27157-1040, USA. sappt@wfubmc.edu

Abstract

Reproductive aging and ovarian senescence have considerable public health relevance because they are associated with increased risk for coronary heart disease (CHD), osteoporosis and other degenerative conditions including cognitive decline and potentially the metabolic syndrome. It has been suggested that the hormonal dysregulation that occurs during the perimenopausal transition may play a role in the initiation of pathobiological changes (e.g., adverse lipid profiles, atherosclerotic plaques) that will increase risk for chronic disease (e.g., CHD) during the postmenopausal years. Moreover, these early changes are suspected to establish a trajectory of disease progression that may be difficult to alter if interventions are not begun until after menopause. Even a slight increase in the rate of disease progression during the pre- or perimenopausal years could have substantial consequences for health and quality of life over the postmenopausal lifespan. Thus, the years leading up to menopause may offer a "critical window" for interventions aimed at reducing the postmenopausal disease burden. The relationship between perimenopausal hormonal dysregulation and the risk for chronic disease is poorly understood due, in large part, to the lack of appropriate animal models of the perimenopausal transition and natural menopause. In this review we assesses studies of nonhuman primates (NHPs) evaluated in various reproductive stages (naturally pre-, peri- and postmenopausal, surgically menopausal) and their contribution to our understanding about risk factors for chronic disease. Finally, because large numbers of naturally perimenopausal and menopausal NHPs are not available for research at present, experimental approaches that have the potential to hasten the onset of the perimenopausal transition will be described.

Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd.

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