Google+

Growth-Boosting Protein May Act As Pregnancy-Protecting Hormone In Humans

Semen doesn’t just ferry sperm. It also bears a mystery ingredient that turns on ovulation in some animals and may even pump up fertility in humans as well. The molecule, nerve growth factor, kick-starts egg release and revs up pregnancy-protective hormones in llamas, researchers report online August 20 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Llama semen is loaded with NGF, says study coauthor and veterinarian Gregg Adams of the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada. The protein is also found in the semen of bulls and humans.

If we find that NGF is also effective in women, it will obviously have huge implications for treating male infertility conditions,” says reproductive biologist Raj Duggavathi of McGill University’s campus in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Canada. “It could be a big boost for couples.

NGF is well-known to biologists but not in the context of reproduction. Nerve cells typically spit the protein out to tell neighboring cells to grow.

Previous findings that semen could trigger ovulation in llamas challenged conventional wisdom that the physical movements of sex were what stimulated egg drop in the animals, says Adams. Unlike humans cows, horses and sheep, which ovulate on a regular cycle, some animals rely on a little action to get their eggs moving.

Adams’ team had shown that semen — filtered free of sperm — injected into llamas’ leg muscles could set off ovulation all on its own — no bump-and-grind required. Semen from stallions, cattle, boars and rabbits could also prod llamas to ovulate.

What’s more, in llamas and other animals, the seminal substance nurtured growth of a little yellow gland in the ovary called the corpus luteum. The gland churns out hormones essential for maintaining a pregnancy. Humans rely on it early in gestation, before the placenta plumps up and takes over. A fizzled-out corpus luteum with low-flowing hormones can make women miscarry.

Adams’ team has known since 2005 that some ingredient in llama semen juices up ovulation, but until now, they didn’t know what it was.

To pinpoint NGF’s identity, Adams’ group first collected semen from five llamas. Next, researchers filtered out the sperm, then zeroed in on the special semen substance by injecting increasingly pure portions into female llamas’ legs. Next, Adam’s team followed a step-by-step process to rule out potential molecular suspects.

The molecule’s size, structure and biochemical properties clued researchers in to its identity. “Through a process of elimination, we finally realized it was a very hearty, very tough protein. When we found out that it was NGF, we scratched our heads and said, ‘That’s strange — NGF isn’t supposed to work this way,’” Adams says. Instead of signaling nearby cells, semen NGF goes all the way through the blood vessels to the brain, where it delivers the message to get busy cranking out more hormones.

Adams’ team confirmed that the llama semen substance was NGF by using a technique usually seen in fertility clinics: injections followed by ultrasounds. The researchers gave llamas shots of either the purified semen substance or NGF from mouse salivary glands — a classic source of the protein. Then, they checked the animals’ reproductive organs with daily ultrasounds. Both substances made ovulation rates shoot up.

I’m fairly convinced” that NGF is the ovulation-sparking semen substance, says reproductive biologist Bruce Murphy of the University of Montreal. “It’s a blockbuster paper,” he says. The work is the first to link NGF to reproductive function.

Next, Adams’ team plans to investigate NGF’s role in human semen — to see if it’s connected to fertility in people as well as llamas. Because women, unlike llamas, don’t need semen to ovulate, it’s not clear yet if NGF is also important for people, says reproductive biologist Dan Bernard of McGill University in Montreal. “It’s still early.” But, he says, “I think the fact that they’ve identified the protein will put this work on the map.” The findings should provide fertile ground for other researchers in the field.

Even though human females ovulate regularly, sometimes women’s bodies gear up for egg release at odd times during their cycle. “I want to know what happens if seminal plasma is absorbed at that time,” Adams says. “Will it cause ovulation?” If a timely dose of semen does nudge an egg’s release, he says, “It could be why we sometimes call couples who practice the rhythm method parents.”

In addition to tweaking ovulation timing, NGF could boost growth of the pregnancy-protecting corpus luteum in humans. If NGF can cultivate the gland the way it does in llamas, cattle, and mice, it’s possible that frequent sex — and thus a steady supply of semen — during early pregnancy could help prevent miscarriage.

The idea “is not crazy at all,” Adams says.

Source: Science News / Meghan Rosen / Photo Credit: G. Adams/Univ. of Saskatchewan

Entertainment

For movies opening January 20, 2017

  OPENING THIS WEEK Kam's Kapsules Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun by Kam Williams For movies opening January 20, 2017 BIG BUDGET FILMS 20th Century Women (R for sexuality, nudity, profanity and brief drug use) Tale of female empowerment, set in Santa Barbara during the summer of '79, revolving around the explorations of love and freedom on the part of a landlady (Annette Bening), one of her tenants (Greta Gerwig), … [Read More its Good for You.....]

Books

Concerned Father Creates Children’s Book Series To Help Make Learning About Valuable Black History Information Fun Again

  Concerned Father Creates Children's Book Series To Help Make Learning About Valuable Black History Information Fun Again   Orlando, FL (January 16, 2017) – EOTO Books & Publishing announced today the immediate release of “The Christopher OluFela Series of Books for Kids” written by father and creative children’s picture book author Lee Chavous. The books take a unique approach to inform young readers of a rich African American … [Read More its Good for You...]

Art

The Day After the Day Of

  The Day After the Day Of by Paul Ilechko   The sky sheds its tears. This morning is the morning of the day after. The day of mourning, the day after the day of.  I beseech the sky to shed tears in order to wash away the tears on my face.   This is the first day of the time after. This is the beginning of a new time, the days of pain, the days of sorrow. We are in mourning. The sky looks down and sheds its tears for … [Read More its Good For You...]

Real Estate

History Being Sold to the Highest Bidder

  History Being Sold to the Highest Bidder by Amy Lignor   For the longest time, scientists and archaeologists have been confused and bemused by various discoveries they’ve unearthed that offer little or no explanation as to the who, what, and why of the people who created these things or left them behind. Even now, in 2017, there are discoveries being studied; stories that were once legends now have actual bits of proof being found that … [Read More its Good for You.....]

Lifestyle

Groundswell for Chazelle!

  Damien Chazelle The “La La Land” Interview with Kam Williams Groundswell for Chazelle! Damien Chazelle wrote and directed the Academy Award-winning Whiplash which landed five Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay for Chazelle. The movie won a trio of Oscars in the Film Editing, Sound Mixing and Supporting Actor (J.K. Simmons) categories. In 2013, his short film of the same name won the Short Film … [Read More its Good for You...]

Outdoors

Carolina Skiff at Miami’s Favorite Boat Show

  Carolina Skiff at Miami's Favorite Boat Show By Craig Lamb You might say “new” is a reoccurring theme of Miami’s favorite boat show coming up soon. A new location with hundreds of new boats, including never-before-seen models being debuted by Carolina Skiff, is a great way to kick off the season. Few boat shows offer buyers the chance to see new boats where they ultimately belong—floating on the water in a real time setting. You can … [Read More its Good for You...]

Sports

Can Troy Aikman Win MVP?

  Can Troy Aikman Win MVP? by Amy Lignor   What a strange title for an article, aye? Of course the ‘old man’ of the Dallas Cowboys can’t win MVP. Troy Aikman was an elite QB, with three Super Bowl rings to prove that fact. However, Aikman hasn’t actually suited-up since leaving behind his Cowboys uniform in 2001. The number one overall draft pick in 1989, Aikman was the MVP of Super Bowl XXVII, and was elected to the Pro Football … [Read More its Good for You...]

Business

Spotlight on Africa

  Spotlight on Africa by Amy Lignor   As the year winds down and comes to a close, it is Africa that is receiving some headlines that call for many changes and improvements to be made in the coming years. It was Ambassador Amina Mohamed (Nairobi, Kenya) that spoke recently about the African Union Commission (AUC) and how the group must provide leadership in the coming years. After all, the nation of Africa is, in truth, the cradle … [Read More its Good for You...]

Travel

The Grandest New Year’s Celebrations Around the World

    The Grandest New Year’s Celebrations Around the World by Amy Lignor   Oh, yes…there are many, many places to travel in order to ring in that New Year in style. Some people have already stated that they see 2017 becoming one of the ‘best of the best’ years the world has ever seen – from technology to business to education to even “going greener” – heck, green has even been chosen as the top color of 2017. But where should you … [Read More its Good for You...]

Green Living

2017 Will Be Green!

    2017 Will Be Green! by Amy Lignor   This statement is not a “hopeful” imagination talking; it is actually quite true. Very recently the Pantone Color Institute declared that green will most definitely be THE color for 2017. This is a company that calls themselves the “global color authority,” and states that everything from high fashion to trends will be on the green path throughout next year. So…when we look at a “green” … [Read More its Good for You...]