KSEF RDE: Autophagy in female reproductive tract development and fertility

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According to the Center for Disease Control, in the United States an estimated 7.3 million women between the ages of 15-44 have reduced fertility or are infertile. Ovarian follicular atresia is a cell death event that occurs in 99% of mature follicles and excess follicular atresia is associated with premature ovarian failure, one of the most common causes of infertility in women. Follicular atresia occurs from programmed cell death (PCD), and autophagy (PCD type II) is implicated in this process. Autophagy is a process that recycles cellular components in order to maintain energy levels within the cell. When this process becomes defective in female reproductive tissues, for example the ovary and oviduct, this can lead to reduced fertility. We have developed a novel, mutant mouse model to characterize how autophagy regulates fertility within these reproductive tissues. We find that compromised autophagy results in: 1) premature loss of female germ cells, 2) increased numbers of atretic follicles, 3) developmental defects in the oviduct, and 4) greatly reduced fertility. We are addressing how insulin regulates autophagy in order to better understand the causes of infertility. The long term implications of these experiments will ultimately allow us to address in the future how diet impacts follicle survival. With obesity and childhood obesity rates rising on a yearly basis in Kentucky and across the U.S., a causative link between diet, insulin signaling, autophagy, and fertility needs to be drawn.
Effective start/end date7/1/116/30/13


  • KY Science and Technology Co Inc: $39,932.00


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