We know sperm selection exists in nature, especially in promiscuous species, when females mate with several males, Fazeli said. Baboons are a good example. During one reproductive cycle, if the female mates with several males, most of the time the offspring belong to one of the males not a spread between all of them We are now seeing what can be the molecular basis for this effect.
While sperm interaction with oviduct cells has been studied in laboratory cultures, the new research is the first to provide evidence for this poorly-understood process in living animals, Fazeli said. Using minimally invasive techniques, the researchers compared protein changes in the oviductal fluids before and after sperm introduction to the reproductive tract.
The data shows that the mammalian female reproductive tract is a far more tightly regulated environment than once thought a fact that Fazeli says is nearly completely ignored by modern IVF. He believes the new findings have profound implications for the massive IVF industry, which has grown exponentially in the past 25 years, as well as cloning. Both techniques rely on egg fertilization outside of their finely-tuned reproductive environment.
The female reproductive tract is a very highly organized and regulated system, Fazeli explained. With IVF, the embryo can develop into an adult, but the question remains: Are we doing the fine-tuning right? We are not sure if what we are doing, based on differences between in-vitro and in-vivo fertilization, is creating health problems for these babies.
Applications for this research extend into agricultural animal breeding, since it has the potential to improve fertilization rates and reproductive techniques in livestock.
Fazeli suggests that the work his team is doing is also applicable to the artificial insemination industry. Some of the products that a females oviducts pr
|Contact: Michael Bernstein|
American Chemical Society