A mouse study, published in Science Advances, looked at ovarian fibrosis and the drug pirfenidone and whether mouse fertility can be extended.
Prof Roger Sturmey, Professor of Reproductive Medicine, Hull York Medical School, University of Hull, said:
“From a technical point of view, this is a fine piece of work from a world leading team of researchers. The confirmation that ovarian fibrosis in mice can be reversed is itself a nice finding and the fact that this is a drug that is used already – albeit for other purposes – is encouraging. Of course, caution must be observed when attempting to extrapolate to the human, but the use of mouse models here is appropriate and has been done carefully. In addition, by performing the work on mice, the team have been able to investigate some of the biological explanations. The finding that the mitochondria – which provide metabolic energy to cells – are key in this reversal is well demonstrated. The authors have carefully shown that ovarian cell metabolism, which an important aspect of cell physiology, can be restored in the ovary tissue from aged mice to something that resembles that from younger animals. This is also an important finding, showing that the reversal of fibrosis is having an effect on the behaviour of the cells as well as the tissue. This is encouraging work although it remains still a way from clinical use and requires additional independent validation and follow up research.”
Prof Richard Anderson, the Elsie Inglis Professor of Clinical Reproductive Science; Head of Section of Obstetrics and Gynaecology; and Co-Director of the MRC Centre for Reproductive Health, University of Edinburgh, said:
“Women are increasingly wanting to have children later in their reproductive life, and enhancing the function of the ovaries at that time would be valuable. This study shows that it is possible to reduce the amount of collagen in the ovaries of older mice and to increase development of the egg-containing follicles, and ovulation. Remarkably, this effect was seen after as little as 4 days treatment, but only in older mice: no effect was seen in young animals. The studies are very carefully done, although surprisingly they did not show an increase in the chance of natural conception, or in the number of pups born. There are lots of questions about whether this might be relevant to women, but we do know that older human ovaries have more collagen, and that this can affect egg development in human ovaries as well as in mice.”
‘Female reproductive life span is extended by targeted removal of fibrotic collagen from the mouse ovary’ by Takashi Umehara et al. was published in Science Advances at 19:00 UK time on Friday 17 June 2022.
Prof Roger Sturmey: “None.”
Prof Richard Anderson: “I don’t have any relevant conflicts.”