Semin Reprod Med 2017; 35(03): 231-240
DOI: 10.1055/s-0037-1603571
Review Article
Thieme Medical Publishers 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA.

Ovary as a Biomarker of Health and Longevity: Insights from Genetics

Aleksandar Rajkovic1, 2, 3, 5, Stephanie Pangas5, 6
  • 1Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, Magee-Womens Research Institute, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • 2Department of Pathology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • 3Human Genetics, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • 5Department of Pathology and Immunology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas
  • 6Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
28 June 2017 (online)


Reproductive fitness and its influence on overall health has been a topic of significant study and interest. Multiple studies have found that age at last reproduction associates with overall health. Women who conceive later in life are significantly more likely to outlive their peers who are unable to conceive. The mechanisms behind these observations are not well understood. Earlier age at menopause associates with shorter life span, increased risk for diabetes mellitus, and increased risk of heart disease, and represents a surrogate marker for the age at last reproduction. Recent applications of genome-wide association studies as well as whole-exome sequencing to familial primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) and menopause have identified new genomic regions that link reproductive aging and adverse health outcomes. The preponderance of DNA damage response genes in menopause and POI represents a relatively new paradigm in this area, and links overall aging and reproduction at the molecular level. Identification of the subset of individuals who are at risk for adverse health outcomes remains a significant and high priority research challenge. The combination of epidemiologic studies in women with diminished ovarian reserves, ovarian insufficiency, and early menopause, as well as appropriate animal studies, will be necessary to dissect genotype–phenotype correlations not only in the cause of ovarian dysfunction but also in the cause of adverse health outcomes.