Oxidative stress has been implicated in various aspects of aging, but the role of oxidative stress in ovarian aging remains unclear. Our previous studies have shown that the initiation of apoptotic cell death in ovarian follicles and granulosa cells by various stimuli is initiated by increased reactive oxygen species. Herein, we tested the hypothesis that ovarian antioxidant defenses decrease and oxidative damage increases with age in mice. Healthy, wild-type C57BL/6 female mice aged 2, 6, 9, or 12 mo from the National Institute on Aging Aged Rodent Colony were killed on the morning of metestrus. Quantitative real-time RT-PCR was used to measure ovarian mRNA levels of antioxidant genes. Immunostaining using antibodies directed against 4-hydroxynonenal (4-HNE), nitrotyrosine (NTY), and 8-hydroxy-2′-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) was used to localize oxidative lipid, protein, and DNA damage, respectively, within the ovaries. TUNEL was used to localize apoptosis. Ovarian expression of glutathione peroxidase 1 (Gpx1) increased and expression of glutaredoxin 1 (Glrx1), glutathione S-transferase mu 2 (Gstm2), peroxiredoxin 3 (Prdx3), and thioredoxin 2 (Txn2) decreased in a statistically significant manner with age. Statistically significant increases in 4-HNE, NTY, and 8-OHdG immunostaining in ovarian interstitial cells and follicles were observed with increasing age. Our data suggest that the decrease in mRNA expression of mitochondrial antioxidants Prdx3 and Txn2 as well as cytosolic antioxidants Glrx1 and Gstm2 may be involved in age-related ovarian oxidative damage to lipid, protein, DNA, and other cellular components vital for maintaining ovarian function and fertility.
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Vol. 84 • No. 4