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Aging Cell. 2011 Jun;10(3):448-56. doi: 10.1111/j.1474-9726.2011.00691.x. Epub 2011 Apr 11.

Transplantation of young ovaries restored cardioprotective influence in postreproductive-aged mice.

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Department of Animal Science, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, USA.


The female cardioprotective advantage, present in mammals of a reproductively competent age, is lost during the transition to a postreproductive state. The role of reproductive hormones in this transition is most evident in women with premature ovarian failure, where reduced estrogen production has been associated with an increased incidence of early death from cardiovascular disease. Previously, we reported that postreproductive-aged mice that received young ovaries displayed an increased life span. Subsequent histopathological analysis suggested the presence of a cardioprotective effect associated with the restoration of ovarian influence. This restoration in postreproductive-aged mice produced a sharp decrease in evidence of significant cardiomyopathy at death, compared with sham-transplanted mice (36.0% vs. 73.3%, respectively). Within the intact transplant group, evidence of cardiomyopathy at death was decreased in mice that were reproductively cycling at the time of transplant, compared with acyclic mice (26.7% vs. 50.0%, respectively). This observation reflects the importance of timing in restoration of ovarian influence in this study. Transplantation of young ovaries to intact, postreproductive-aged female mice provided significant, long-term restoration of a cardioprotective benefit, similar to that previously present during a reproductively competent age. In these mice, restoration of ovarian influence through ovarian transplantation may, in effect, have postponed the advance of age-associated cardiomyopathy to a point where the disease did not reach a clinically relevant threshold during the lifetime of the recipients. These results offer support for previous clinical observations suggesting that hormone replacement therapy can produce divergent results if initiated during the perimenopausal period, compared with the postmenopausal ages.

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