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New Clues Shed Light on Sperm Function, Male Fertility

Researchers uncover key proteins in mice that could lead to new birth control for men

WEDNESDAY, April 28 (HealthDay News) -- Two proteins in a family of proteins called PLA2s play a vital role in sperm function and fertility in mice, say two teams of researchers.

The findings could improve understanding of male infertility and lead to new types of male birth control and treatments for infertility.

In one study, Japanese researchers found that the protein sPLA2-III is expressed in an area of the testis called the proximal epididymal epithelium. Male mice that lacked the protein had low levels of fertility because their sperm did not mature properly, which resulted in decreased motility and decreased ability to fertilize eggs.

In the second study, French researchers found that male mice that lacked the protein group X secreted PLA2 (also known as mGX) produced smaller litters than normal, and that sperm from mGX-deficient mice were not efficient at fertilizing eggs.

The studies were published April 26 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about male infertility.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Investigation, news release, April 26, 2010

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