Thursday, 16 June 2016

Scientists find first rodent with a menstrual cycle

JUNE 13, 2016

by Brett Smith

While mice have been great stand-ins for humans in medical research, they haven’t been such good models for women’s health research due to the lack of a menstrual cycle.

But now, according to a new study, researchers have discovered one particular mouse that does have a menstrual cycle, which provides a tantalizing research prospect.

“When you do science you’re not surprised at anything — but wow, this was a really interesting finding,” Francesco DeMayo, a reproductive biologist at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences who was not involved in the work, told Nature News.

Tiny menstrual cycles allow for huge research
According to the study, scientists discovered the spiny mouse (Acomys cahirinus) averaged a 9-day menstrual cycle and spent 20 to 40 percent of their cycle bleeding. This ratio is very similar to that in women, who normally bleed for 15 to 35 percent of their cycle.

To follow the mice's periods, the team purged the rodents’ vaginas with saline solution each day for 18 days. To make sure the process did not result in bleeding, the team also treated five standard lab mice in the same way. The researchers also dissected uteruses extracted from four spiny mice, each at a various phase of the menstrual cycle.

The team followed up on their initial findings by sequencing the spiny mouse transcriptome, which is all of the RNA expressed at a certain point in time. The genetic data could explain how genes direct different stages of the spiny mouse's menstrual cycle.

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