The relationships between reproduction and aging are important for understanding the mechanisms of aging and evaluating evolutionary theories of aging. To investigate the effects of progeny production on reproductive and somatic aging, we conducted longitudinal studies of Caenorhabditis elegans hermaphrodites. For mated wild-type animals that were not sperm limited and survived past the end of the reproductive period, high levels of cross-progeny production were positively correlated with delayed reproductive and somatic aging. In this group of animals, individuals that generated more cross progeny also reproduced and lived longer than individuals that generated fewer cross progeny. These results indicate that progeny production does not accelerate reproductive or somatic aging. This longitudinal study demonstrated that cumulative cross progeny production through day four is an early-stage biomarker that is a positive predictor of longevity. Furthermore, in mated animals, high levels of early cross progeny production were positively correlated with high levels of late cross progeny production, indicating that early progeny production does not accelerate reproductive aging. The relationships between progeny production and aging were further evaluated by comparing self-fertile hermaphrodites that generated relatively few self progeny with mated hermaphrodites that generated many cross progeny. The timing of age-related somatic degeneration was similar in these groups, suggesting progeny production does not accelerate somatic aging. These studies rigorously define relationships between progeny production, reproductive aging, and somatic aging and identify new biomarkers of C. elegans aging. These results indicate that some mechanisms or pathways control age-related degeneration of both reproductive and somatic tissues in C. elegans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2219-2232
Number of pages14
JournalG3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • Aging
  • Biomarker
  • C. elegans
  • Longitudinal study
  • Reproduction


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