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Among the causes for poor egg quality are defects in chromosomes on separation during meiotic cell division, and the "clumping" of mitochondria within the cell cytoplasm of eggs.
Kaisa Selesniemi et al. (pp. 1231912324), publishing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), tested the effects of caloric restriction - a diet regimen that has been shown to slow the ravages of age in mice - on the quality of mature eggs produced by aging mice.
They report that 12-month-old female mice that were maintained on a 40% calorie-restricted diet from 3.5 months of age produced eggs of noticeably better quality than did age-matched mice fed a normal diet.
Caloric restriction was tied to better egg yield, fewer defects in meiotic spindle formation and chromosome alignment during egg cell division, and a more even distribution of energy-producing mitochondria within the egg.
Furthermore, mice lacking a gene for a protein dubbed PGC-1, which is thought to play a role in mediating the effects of caloric restriction, also produced eggs of better quality than did aging adult mice expressing PGC-1.
This suggests that the protein might help control egg quality.
According to the authors, the findings suggest that experimental drugs that mimic the effects of caloric restriction could someday help prevent chromosomal defects in aging human egg cells and possibly improve fertility in older women.
Original article: http://www.pnas.org/content/108/30/12319.abstract