Hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis homeostasis predicts longevity
Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science
School of Exercise and Health Sciences
The reproductive-cell cycle theory of aging posits that reproductive hormone changes associated with menopause and andropause drive senescence via altered cell cycle signaling. Using data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (n = 5,034), we analyzed the relationship between longevity and menopause, including other factors that impact "ovarian lifespan" such as births, oophorectomy, and hormone replacement therapy. We found that later onset of menopause was associated with lower mortality, with and without adjusting for additional factors (years of education, smoking status, body mass index, and marital status). Each year of delayed menopause resulted in a 2.9% reduction in mortality; after including a number of additional controls, the effect was attenuated modestly but remained statistically significant (2.6% reduction in mortality). We also found that no other reproductive parameters assessed added to the prediction of longevity, suggesting that reproductive factors shown to affect longevity elsewhere may be mediated by age of menopause. Thus, surgical and natural menopause at age 40, for example, resulted in identical survival probabilities. These results support the maintenance of the hypothalamic- pituitary-gonadal axis in homeostasis in prolonging human longevity, which provides a coherent framework for understanding the relationship between reproduction and longevity.