Bacterial infections during early life, such as Chlamydia which is present in 15% of newly born babies, may reduce reproductive success in adult women. For example, exposure to bacteria can lead to a change in the onset of puberty, as well as in ovarian morphology and sexual behavior.
Luba Sominsky and colleagues from the University of Newcastle, Australia, here show that when infant rats are injected with lipopolysaccharide molecules that are normally found on the exterior of bacteria, the expression of genes in their ovaries changes, especially for genes implicated in immune-mediated inflammatory disease.
Sominsky et al. propose that during early development, immune factors are major regulators of ovarian development, so that an immune imbalance during this period may interfere with the formation of ovarian follicles, compromising fertility later in life. This link between adult fertility and infections during critical periods of development may help explain the ongoing trend for declining fertility in young women worldwide.
Frontiers in Neuroscience