COLLEGE STATION A joke among two Texas AgriLife Research scientists later turned into a fully-funded study found Viagra can aid fetal development in female sheep. Female sheep (ewes) are an agriculturally important species, which can serve as an excellent animal model for studying the physiology of human pregnancy, the researchers said.
Viagra (sildenafil citrate), which is used to treat male erectile dysfunction, enhanced blood flow in pregnant female sheep, helping send vital amino acids and other nutrients needed in fetal development. The study's results not only will assist with solving fetal development problems in other livestock, but possibly in humans, said Dr. Guoyao Wu, AgriLife Research animal nutritionist and Senior Faculty Fellow in the Department of Animal Science at Texas A&M University.
"Because 5 percent to 10 percent of infants are born as low birth-weight babies worldwide, and because fetal-growth retardation is also a significant problem in livestock species, our findings have important implications for both human health and animal agriculture," Wu said.
The findings appear in a recent edition of The Journal of Nutrition (http://www.nutrition.org/).
The study originated in 2003 after a chat between Wu and fellow AgriLife Research scientist Dr. Tom Spencer when they were working with pregnant ewes.
"We made a joke that many men are now using Viagra and that women may also have a need for it," Wu said. "Interestingly, one week later, we saw that Pfizer Inc. announced an international request for research proposals on Viagra."
The team submitted a proposal to Pfizer, using pregnant sheep as an animal model for evaluating Viagra's potential role in enhancing fetal growth. The research team would also evaluate both adequate or inadequate maternal intakes of nutrients from the diet, Wu said.
Pfizer selected the proposal and work began.'/>"/>
|Contact: Dr. Guoyao Wu|
Texas A&M AgriLife Communications