The 84th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2015)

A genetic link to trade-offs between reproduction and lifespan: polymorphism of interleukin-10 gene and fertility of women


Department of Environmental Health, Jagiellonian University

March 27, 2015 2:15, Grand Ballroom A/B Add to calendar

Reproduction and lifespan may be linked due to existence of genes that benefit reproduction but reduce lifespan (antagonistic pleiotropy). Ageing is characterized by pro-inflammatory status which increases the risk of age-related diseases. Therefore, genetic variation in inflammatory cytokines may be correlated with ageing and longevity. Gene IL-10 (encoding interleukin-10 with strong anti-inflammatory function) is suggested as one of the longevity genes. Simultaneously, such gene, through its documented involvement in regulation of immune function, may have a pleiotropic effect on reproduction. We show that IL-10 indeed antagonistically affects women’s fertility.

We studied relationship between polymorphism of gene IL-10 and fertility among 175 post-menopausal Polish women in a rural population at the Mogielica Human Ecology Study Site. Women who were AA homozygotes had significantly higher number of children (4.8 v. 4.2, p = 0.048) and sons (2.7 v. 2.2, p = 0.04) than AG or GG genotypes. Higher parity AA women had also much shorter average interbirth intervals (33.8 v. 44.5 months, p = 0.01).

Higher fertility of women with AA IL-10 genotypes could be explained through a role that IL-10 plays in maternal immuno-tolerance of the fetus or in regulation of the HPA axis. Our results suggest that IL-10 gene has antagonistic pleiotropic effects: genotypes that are known to have a lower risk of many old age diseases also have reduced fertility. This provides evidence of a genetically-based trade-off between immune function and reproduction in women.

Supported by the National Science Centre (N N404 273440 to GJ), Ministry of Science and Higher Education (IdP2011 000161 to GJ) and Yale University Program in Reproductive Ecology.