, 37:10 | Cite as

Age-related decline in ovarian follicle stocks differ between chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and humans

  • Christina T. Cloutier
  • James E. Coxworth
  • Kristen HawkesEmail author


Similarity in oldest parturitions in humans and great apes suggests that we maintain ancestral rates of ovarian aging. Consistent with that hypothesis, previous counts of primordial follicles in postmortem ovarian sections from chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) showed follicle stock decline at the same rate that human stocks decline across the same ages. Here, we correct that finding with a chimpanzee sample more than three times larger than the previous one, which also allows comparison into older ages. Analyses show depletion rates similar until about age 35, but after 35, the human counts continue to fall with age, while the change is much less steep in chimpanzees. This difference implicates likely effects on ovarian dynamics from other physiological systems that are senescing at different rates, and, potentially, different perimenopausal experience for chimpanzees and humans.


Menopause Reproductive aging Hominid evolution 



We thank Dr. Kirtly Jones for technical advice and training, and the Yerkes National Primate Research Center of Emory University; the Southwest National Primate Research Center; the New Iberia Research Center at the University of Louisiana; the Keeling Center for Research at MD Anderson, University of Texas; and Chimp Haven for their assistance in the acquisition of tissue samples for this study. Research reported here was supported by the National Science Foundation (award number BCS0717886) and the National Institutes of Health (award numbers P51RR000165, P51RR013986, ODP51OO011133, and 9U42OD014838-11).

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© American Aging Association 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christina T. Cloutier
    • 1
  • James E. Coxworth
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kristen Hawkes
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  2. 2.Utah Population DatabaseUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA

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