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

Lifetime reproductive effort and oxidative stress biomarkers in postmenopausal women


1Unit of Anthropology, Polish Academy of Sciences, 2Department of Anthropology, Yale University, 3Department of Environmental Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, Jagiellonian University Medical College

March 27, 2015 3:45, Grand Ballroom A/B Add to calendar

Recent studies on the trade-offs between reproduction and longevity indicate that the detrimental effect of oxidative stress may be crucial for the cost that reproductive effort incurs on lifespan in females. Every stage of reproduction causes major increases in oxidative metabolism that in turn may also elevate oxidative stress. Thus, it could be expected that increases in metabolism related to reproduction will contribute to maternal aging via increases in oxidative stress. However, to date, this theoretical prediction has been only occasionally studied in human females. To test the hypothesis that reproductive effort increases oxidative stress we conducted the study in postmenopausal women (n=100, mean age 64.0) from Mogielica Human Ecology Study Site in Poland. In these women high reproductive effort is accompanied by high energy expenditure resulting from physical work. We found that, independent of age, women with high lifetime gravidity (≥4 pregnancies) had 20% higher levels of 8-OHdG (biomarker of oxidative damage to cellular DNA) and 60% higher levels of Cu-Zn SOD (biomarker of antioxidative defense) when compared to women with low gravidity (<4 pregnancies). This study presents the first clear evidence for oxidative stress as a cost of reproductive effort in humans.

This study was supported by the Fulbright Commission, Polish National Science Centre, Polish Ministry of Sciences and Higher Education, Yale University, and Salus Publica Foundation.