Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Why females live longer than males: is it due to the father's sperm?

Researchers in Japan have found that female mice produced by using genetic material from two mothers but no father live significantly longer than mice with the normal mix of maternal and paternal genes. Their findings provide the first evidence that sperm genes may have a detrimental effect on lifespan in mammals.

The research, which is published online today (Wednesday 2 December) in Europe's leading reproductive medicine journal Human Reproduction [1], found that mice created from two female genomes (bi-maternal (BM) mice) lived an average of 186 days longer than control mice created from the normal combination of a male and female genome. The average lifespan for the type of mice used in the study is between about 600-700 days, meaning that the BM mice lived approximately a third longer than normal.

Professor Tomohiro Kono (PhD), from the Department of Bioscience, Tokyo University of Agriculture, and Director of the Nodai Research Institute (Tokyo, Japan), and Dr Manabu Kawahara (PhD), associate professor at the Laboratory of Animal Resource Development, Faculty of Agriculture, Saga University (Japan), carried out the research. They believe the reason for the difference in longevity could relate to a gene on chromosome 9 associated with post-natal growth.

Prof Kono said: "We have known for some time that women tend to live longer than men in almost all countries worldwide, and that these sex-related differences in longevity also occur in many other mammalian species. However, the reason for this difference was unclear and, in particular, it was not known whether longevity in mammals was controlled by the genome composition of only one or both parents."

To answer this question, Prof Kono and Dr Kawahara set out to study the life span of mice produced without sperm. To do this, they collected non-growing oocytes (eggs) from day-old mice, manipulated the genetic material in these eggs so that the genes behaved like sperm genes, and then transplanted this manipulated genetic material into the fully grown, unfertilised oocytes of adult mice that had their nuclei removed (enucleated oocytes). These reconstructed oocytes developed into embryos, which were transferred into surrogate mother mice. The mice that were born as a result were bi-maternal, having genetic material from two mothers, but no father.

The researchers created control mice through natural mating that were genetically identical to the BM mice, apart from the fact that they were created in the normal way with genes from male and female mice.

There were 13 BM mice and 13 control mice born between October 2005 and March 2006, and Prof Kono found that the average lifespan was 186 days longer in the BM mice than in the controls (841.5 days versus 655.5 days). The longest time that any of the control mice lived was 996 days, with all but one of them dying by 800 days, while the longest time alive for the BM mice was 1045 days, with all but three of them living for more than 800 days. The researchers checked the weight of the mice at 49 days and 600 days (around 20 months after birth) and found that the BM mice were significantly lighter and smaller than the control mice. The BM mice also seemed to have better immune systems, with a significant increase in one type of white blood cell, eosinophil.

Both sets of mice were kept in the same, infection-free environments, with free access to food, making it unlikely that some external environmental factor was the cause of the difference in life spans.

Prof Kono said: "We believe that the most likely reason for the differences in longevity relates to the repression of a gene called Rasgrf1 in the BM mice. This gene normally expresses from the paternally inherited chromosome and is an imprinted gene on chromosome 9 associated with post-natal growth. Thus far, it's not clear whether Rasgrf1 is definitively associated with mouse longevity, but it is one of the strong candidates for a responsible gene. Furthermore, we cannot eliminate the possibility that other, unknown genes that rely on their paternal inheritance to function normally may be responsible for the extended longevity of the BM mice."

Imprinted genes are genes that are turned on, or "expressed", according to whether they are inherited from the mother or the father.

The researchers write: "Our results are consistent with models based on sex-specific selection of reproductive strategies, e.g. male individuals maximizing fitness by an intense investment in reproduction by way of a larger body size in order to achieve more breeding opportunities, resulting in shorter longevity…. In contrast, female individuals usually do not engage in such costly male behaviours and instead tend to optimize their reproductive output by conserving energy for delivery, providing for offspring, foraging and predator avoidance. Our results further suggested sex differences in longevity originating at the genome level, implying that the sperm genome has a detrimental effect on longevity in mammals."

Prof Kono concluded: "The study may give an answer to the fundamental questions: that is, whether longevity in mammals is controlled by the genome composition of only one or both parents, and just maybe, why women are at an advantage over men with regard to the lifespan."

[1] Longevity in mice without a father. Human Reproduction journal. doi:10/1093/humrep/dep400

Emma Mason | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Don't Give the Slightest Chance to Toxic Elements in Medicinal Products
23.03.2018 | Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB)

nachricht North and South Cooperation to Combat Tuberculosis
22.03.2018 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Space observation with radar to secure Germany's space infrastructure

Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.

The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

New solar solutions for sustainable buildings and cities

23.03.2018 | Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

For graphite pellets, just add elbow grease

23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Unique communication strategy discovered in stem cell pathway controlling plant growth

23.03.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Sharpening the X-ray view of the nanocosm

23.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>