Potential long term risks associated with maternal aging the role of the mitochondria
We discuss whether advanced maternal age has long-term effects through inheritance of the mitochondrial DNA, apart from the immediate consequences of maternal age on reproduction.
Martin Graham Wilding, Ph.D.
Volume 103, Issue 6, Pages 1397-1401
The mean age at which women create families in Western society is increasing. This is in spite of the fact that reproduction in later life is subject to various difficulties, such as the lower probability of conception in relation to maternal age, the increase in spontaneous pregnancy loss, and higher obstetric risk. In this review of recent data, we suggest that a fourth effect, the decrease in lifespan of children in relation to the age of conception of the mother, can be added to the list. We discuss this effect in relation to the transmission of the mitochondria exclusively through the female germ line and the effect of age on this organelle. Data from our own studies and the animal literature as a whole suggest that this effect could be due to the transmission of damaged mitochondrial DNA, and further indicate that the effect is more widespread than previously considered.