29 October 2014
A team at the University of Gothenburg has made a new discovery about the biological clock that controls female fertility. The finding is a major contribution to research aimed at discovering new treatments for infertile women.
Some women in their 50s become pregnant easily, while females in their 30s can be unsuccessful. Research has been unable to explain the reasons behind this, but the fact that the menopause is partly triggered by the uterus running out of eggs to release has been linked to the problem.
Like an infant, eggs in the uterus need nourishment and support from the granulosa cells of the primary follicle. The new research has identified a signaling pathway that is key in enabling immature cells to survive.
The mTOR signaling pathway is necessary for activating expression of the kit ligand growth factor, which subsequently binds to the c-kit receptors of eggs and determines their fate.
According to Professor Liu, of the Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Gothenburg, this mechanism acts like a biological clock enabling the granulosa cells to dictate when eggs grow and die.
It is hoped that this will lead to new therapies to stimulate the growth of eggs that are unable to mature.
Posted by Jeanette Royston
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