The fertility of women declines sharply after age 35 and is essentially lost upon menopause at age 51. The ovary plays an important part in aging-associated changes in women’s physiology since it is an essential component of both the reproductive and endocrine systems. Several previous studies in mice have shown that the ovarian tissue goes through drastic changes over the course of aging and exhibits signs of aging-associated chronic inflammation (inflammaging), which may contribute to the marked decline of oocyte quality in aged individuals. To further examine aging-associated gene expression changes in the ovary and to characterize the development of inflammaging, we performed detailed transcriptomic analysis of whole ovaries from mice of six different age groups over the mouse reproductive lifespan and identified more than 5000 genes with significant expression change over the course of aging. Intriguingly, we found aging-associated changes in the expression of several markers that indicate alterations in the composition of ovarian macrophages, which are known to be central players of inflammaging. Using flow cytometry, we analyzed and compared macrophage populations and polarization in young and old ovaries and found a significant increase in monocyte recruitment and macrophage alternative activation (M2) in the old ovaries compared to those in young. Our results are consistent with previous findings of aging-associated increase of fibrosis in the ovarian stromal extracellular matrix, and they provide new clues about the development of inflammaging in the mammalian ovary.
Table S1 All normalized gene read counts of the 18 samples.
Table S2 Fitness of all differentially expressed genes to a linear or quadratic model.