Female reproductive function changes during aging with the estrous cycle becoming more irregular during the transition to menopause. We found that intermittent shifts of the light-dark cycle disrupted regularity of estrous cycles in middle-aged female mice, whose estrous cycles were regular under unperturbed 24-hr light-dark cycles.

Although female mice deficient in Cry1 or Cry2, the core components of the molecular circadian clock, exhibited regular estrous cycles during youth, they showed accelerated senescence characterized by irregular and unstable estrous cycles and resultant infertility in middle age.

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