Scientists link dietary DHA to male fertility
Who knew that male fertility depends on sperm-cell architecture? A University of Illinois study reports that a certain omega-3 fatty acid is necessary to construct the arch that turns a round, immature sperm cell into a pointy-headed super swimmer with an extra long tail.
"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," said Manabu Nakamura, a U of I 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 Timothy Abbott, a doctoral student who co-authored the study.
Men concerned about their fertility may wonder what foods contain DHA. Marine fish, such as salmon or tuna, are excellent sources of this omega-3 fatty acid.
The scientists became intrigued with DHA's role in creating healthy sperm when they experimented with "knockout" mice 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," Nakamura said.
But when DHA was introduced into the mice's diet, fertility was completely restored. "It was very striking. When we fed the mice DHA, all these abnormalities were prevented," he said.
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," he said.
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, he noted.
Nakamura finds the role this omega-3 fatty acid plays in membrane fusion particularly exciting. 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," he noted.
The Illinois scientists will continue to study sperm; meanwhile, Nakamura has sent some of his DHA-deficient knockout mice to other laboratories where scientists are studying DHA function in the brain and the retina.
The study was published in a recent issue of Biology of Reproduction.
Provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Omega-3s reduce stroke severity Aug 25, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Intelligence in young children is not influenced by omega 3 fatty acid Jan 22, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Omega-3 kills cancer cells Apr 02, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Researchers fishing for cancer cure discover active DHA derivatives Mar 01, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Breakthrough in treating premature babies Jan 14, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras
Apr 15, 2011 I'd like to open a discussion thread for version 2 of the draft of my book ''Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras'', available online at http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0810.1019 , and for the...
- More from Physics Forums - Independent Research
More news stories
(HealthDay)—The majority of physicians remain reluctant to adopt health information technology (HIT), according to a report by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu.
Health 6 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
As high schoolers prepare for final exams, teens nationwide may be tempted to use a "study drug"—a prescription stimulant or amphetamine—to gain an academic edge. But a new University of Michigan poll shows only one in ...
Health 32 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
Hospital emergency departments play a growing role in the U.S. health care system, accounting for a rising proportion of hospital admissions and serving increasingly as an advanced diagnostic center for primary care physicians, ...
Health 33 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
Women are less likely than men to receive care in a trauma center after severe injury, according to a new study of almost 100,000 Canadian patients.
Health 2 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Food microbiology laboratories continue to submit false negative results and false positive results on a routine basis. A retrospective study of nearly 40,000 proficiency test results over the past 14 years, presented today ...
56 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
Posterior fossa subdural hematoma (PFSDH) is a serious and rare condition in newborns, generally occurring after difficult deliveries. But with appropriate treatment, there's an excellent chance of good long-term outcomes ...
1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0
Over the past few decades, neuroscientists have made much progress in mapping the brain by deciphering the functions of individual neurons that perform very specific tasks, such as recognizing the location ...
4 hours ago | 5 / 5 (5) | 0 |
A new study conducted by researchers at the Child Study Center at NYU Langone Medical Center found men diagnosed as children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) were twice as likely to be obese in a 33-year ...
2 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
While the effects of acute stroke have been widely studied, brain damage during the subacute phase of stroke has been a neglected area of research. Now, a new study by the University of South Florida reports that within a ...
1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0 |
New research from the University of Southampton has shown that blind and visually impaired people have the potential to use echolocation, similar to that used by bats and dolphins, to determine the location of an object.
1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0 |