Although mammalian males can reproduce until late in life, evidence of hazards to offspring has emerged in human and animal models.
Two papers in the February 2009 issue of the journal Biology of Reproduction provide clear, well-controlled data of deleterious effects on the offspring of aged male mice mated to females of prime reproductive age.
The offspring from the elderly males exhibit abnormalities not only in several behavioral traits, but also in reproductive fitness and longevity. The early death of offspring sired by old mice was heralded by rapid weight loss.
Moreover, mating the offspring derived from aged males resulted in the production of pups exhibiting decreased weights at weaning when compared with pups from the offspring of younger males: an apparent transgenerational effect.
The defects causing the abnormalities in offspring are unknown and should be the objective of intriguing studies in the future.
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