Antidepressants may help slow reproductive aging, study finds

In a new study, Northwestern University researchers exposed roundworms (a well-established model organism in biological research) to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a class of drugs used for treating depression and anxiety. Surprisingly, this treatment improved the quality of aging females’ egg cells.

Not only did exposure to SSRIs decrease embryonic death by more than twofold, it also decreased chromosomal abnormalities in surviving offspring by more than twofold. Under the microscope, egg cells also looked younger and healthier, appearing round and plump rather than tiny and misshapen, which is common with aging.

Astounded by the results, the researchers replicated the experiment in fruit flies — another common model organism — and the SSRIs demonstrated the same effect.

Although much more work is needed, the researchers say these findings provide new opportunities to explore pharmacological interventions that might combat infertility issues in humans by improving egg quality and by delaying the onset of reproductive aging.

The study was published in the journal Developmental Biology.

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