In the latest issue of the journal Nature, the scientists detail how mice that lack LPA receptors, which normally appear on the surface of cells in a mouse's womb, have fertility problems. These mice are able to produce eggs normally, so that the eggs can be fertilized, but the resulting embryos, which are otherwise healthy, have problems implanting in the womb -- the last step in conception.
This is significant because women also have these LPA receptors expressed in their wombs. The discovery that the LPA receptors affect fertility in mice may open a new area of fertility research and treatment for humans.
"This is a receptor that wasn't on anyone's radar screen from a fertility standpoint," says Jerold Chun, M.D., Ph.D., who conducted the study with his research associate Xiaoqin Ye, M.D., Ph.D., and their colleagues at The University of Tokyo, Washington State University, and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. "[These results] offer new insights on lipid signals and fertility."
If the receptors do turn out to be relevant to embryo implantation in humans, then the mechanisms involving these proteins might make good targets for therapeutic intervention, perhaps even leading to new treatments and successful pregnancies for some of the more than 6 million American women affected by infertility.
Fertility and the Demographics of the Western World
In the Western world, the last few decades have seen a dramatic shift in when women are choosing to have their first children. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average age of first-time mothers increased from about 21.4 in 1970 to nearly 25 in 2000.
Many women wait until they are well into their thi
Source:Scripps Research Institute