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Posts tagged ‘Biology of Reproduction’

Omega 3 Fatty Acid (DHA) Is Crucial For Male Fertility Health

Male fertility depends on sperm-cell architecture. A University of Illinois study reports that the specific omega-3 fatty acid (DHA) is necessary to construct the immature sperm cell into a properly-formed “pointy-headed super swimmer” with an extra long tail for effective motility.

“Normal sperm cells contain an arc-like structure called the acrosome that is critical in fertilization because it houses, organizes, and concentrates a variety of enzymes that sperm use to penetrate an egg,” explained Manabu Nakamura, a University of Illinois associate professor of biochemical and molecular nutrition.

The study shows for the first time that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is essential in fusing the building blocks of the acrosome together. “Without DHA, this vital structure doesn’t form and sperm cells don’t work,” said co-researchers conducting the study.

Men concerned about their fertility may want to increase their intake of foods containing DHA. Most often recommended are omega 3-rich fish, such as salmon, mackeral, trout or tuna, known as excellent sources of this omega-3 fatty acid.

The scientists became intrigued with DHAs role in creating healthy sperm when they experimented with laboratory subjects that lack a gene essential to its synthesis. “We looked at sperm count, shape, and motility, and tested the breeding success rate. The male mice that lacked DHA were basically infertile,” they said.

But when DHA was introduced into the subject’s diet, fertility was completely restored. “It was very striking. When we fed theDHA, all these abnormalities were prevented,” they added.

The scientists then used confocal laser scanning (3D) microscopy to look at thin slices of  tissue in progressive stages of a sperm cell’s development. By labeling enzymes with fluorescence, they could track their location in a cell.

“We could see that the acrosome is constructed when small vesicles containing enzymes fuse together in an arc. But that fusion doesn’t happen without DHA,” they emphasized. In the absence of DHA, the vesicles are formed but they don’t come together to make the arch that is so important in sperm cell structure.

The role this omega-3 fatty acid plays in membrane fusion is particularly exciting, according to the researchers. Because DHA is abundant in specific tissues, including the brain and the retina as well as the testes, the scientists believe their research findings could also impact research relating to brain function and vision.

“It’s logical to hypothesize that DHA is involved in vesicle fusion elsewhere in the body, and because the brain contains so much of it, we wonder if deficiencies could play a role, for example, in the development of dementia. Any communication between neurons in the brain involves vesicle fusion,” they noted.

The Illinois research scientists will continue to study sperm; other laboratories are now studying DHA function in the brain and the retina.

Story Source:  University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

Journal Reference: “Deficiency in the Omega-3 Fatty Acid Pathway Results in Failure of Acrosome Biogenesis in Mice”  Biology of Reproduction, 2011;

This article is for informational and educational purposes only;  It is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment; Consult your doctor or  healthcare professional.

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Vitamin D Shrinks Fibroid Tumors In Resaerch Study

Vitamin D!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Vitamin D!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Photo credit: BaileyRaeWeaver)

Treatment with vitamin D reduced the size of uterine fibroid tumors in laboratory subjects predisposed to developing the benign tumors, reported researchers funded by the NIH (National Institutes of Health.)

Uterine fibroids are the most common noncancerous tumors in women of childbearing age. Fibroids grow within and around the wall of the uterus. Thirty percent of women 25 to 44 years of age report fibroid-related symptoms, such as lower back pain, heavy vaginal bleeding or painful menstrual periods.

Uterine fibroids also are associated with infertility and such pregnancy complications as miscarriage or preterm labor. Other than surgical removal of the uterus, there are few treatment options for women experiencing severe fibroid-related symptoms and about 200,000 U.S. women undergo the procedure each year.

A recent analysis by NIH scientists estimated that the economic cost of fibroids to the United States, in terms of health care expenses and lost productivity, may exceed $34 billion a year.

Fibroids are three to four times more common in African-American women than in white women. Moreover, African-American women are roughly 10 times more likely to be deficient in vitamin D than are white women. In previous research, the study authors found that vitamin D inhibited the growth of human fibroid cells in laboratory cultures.

“The study results provide a promising new lead in the search for a non-surgical treatment for fibroids that doesn’t affect fertility,” said research scientists from the Reproductive Sciences Branch of the NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which funded the study.

The findings appeared online in the journal “Biology of Reproduction.”

For the study, the researchers tested the vitamin D treatment on a strain of laboratory subjects genetically predisposed to developing fibroid tumors. After examining the subjects and confirming the presence of fibroids in 12 of them, the researchers divided the subjects into two groups of six each: those that would receive vitamin D and those that would not.

In the first group, small pumps implanted under the skin delivered a continuous dose of vitamin D for three weeks. The researchers then examined the subjects in both groups.

Fibroids increased in size in the untreated subjects, but, in the subjects receiving vitamin D, the tumors had shrunk dramatically. On average, uterine fibroids in the group receiving vitamin D were 75 percent smaller than those in the untreated group.

 

The amount of vitamin D the subjects received each day was equivalent to a human dose of roughly 1,400 international units.

The recommended amount of vitamin D for teens and adults age 70 and under is 600 units daily, although up to 4,000 units is considered safe for children over age 9, adults, and for pregnant and breast-feeding females.

“Additional research is needed to confirm vitamin D as a potential treatment for women with uterine fibroids,” said the scientists. “But it is also an essential nutrient for the health of muscle, bone and the immune system, and it is important for everyone to receive an adequate amount of the vitamin.”

Vitamin D is  produced when ultraviolet rays from sunlight reach the skin. Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and tuna are the best natural food sources of the vitamin. Supplements are often recommended because very few foods naturally contain vitamin D. Fortified milk and other fortified foods are the most common to provide an additional source.

Story Source: NIH / National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Journal Reference: 1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D3 Treatment Shrinks Uterine Leiomyoma Tumors. Biology of Reproduction, 2012;

 

This article is for informational and educational purposes only;  It is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.  Consult your doctor or healthcare professional.

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