Background: Down syndrome incidence in humans increases dramatically with maternal age. This is mainly the result of increased meiotic errors, but factors such as differences in abortion rate may play a role as well. Since the meiotic error rate increases almost exponentially after a certain age, its contribution to the overall incidence aneuploidy may mask the contribution of other processes. Results: To focus on such selection mechanisms we investigated transmission in trisomic females, using data from mouse models and from Down syndrome humans. In trisomic females the a-priori probability for trisomy is independent of meiotic errors and thus approximately constant in the early embryo. Despite this, the rate of transmission of the extra chromosome decreases with age in females of the Ts65Dn and, as we show, for the Tc1 mouse models for Down syndrome. Evaluating progeny of 73 Tc1 births and 112 Ts65Dn births from females aged 130 days to 250 days old showed that both models exhibit a 3-fold reduction of the probability to transmit the trisomy with increased maternal ageing. This is concurrent with a 2-fold reduction of litter size with maternal ageing. Furthermore, analysis of previously reported 30 births in Down syndrome women shows a similar tendency with an almost three fold reduction in the probability to have a Down syndrome child between a 20 and 30 years old Down syndrome woman. Conclusions: In the two types of mice models for Down syndrome that were used for this study, and in human Down syndrome, older females have significantly lower probability to transmit the trisomy to the offspring. Our findings, taken together with previous reports of decreased supportive environment of the older uterus, add support to the notion that an older uterus negatively selects the less fit trisomic embryos.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the Israel Science Foundation grant 1415/12, the Minerva Foundation, Germany and by the Clore Center for Biological Physics.
© 2016 The Author(s).
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