Mechanism discovered in insects that prolongs germ cell life and therefore fertility – clues to keeping stem cells fresh as we age
Ageing takes a toll on our bodies, often affecting fertility. But at the tips of these fruit fly (Drosophila ovaries, scientists discover a clever trick that prolongs the life of germline stem cells destined to become eggs (black dots). Six weeks old is 'getting on a bit' for a fruit fly – those pictured on the top find their ovaries shrinking, yet the similarly aged flies on the bottom appear more youthful, and with a greater number of stem cells. These flies were deprived of juvenile hormone – a gentle stress that mimics diapause – a sort of protective state that the fly enters in times of adversity. Chemical treatments restore juvenile hormone signals and 'unpause' the diapause so ageing (and development) can continue. Searching for similar mechanisms in humans may help to solve issues with fertility and keep other stem cells fresh as we age.
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