New method of contraception: calcium damages the sperm
Calcium can damage the sperm. Saarland scientists hope that what may seem frightening to men at first impression could contribute to a new form of contraception in the future. In the current issue of the scientific journal Science Science, the researchers at the Homburg Institute of Pharmacology report that their laboratory tests have shown a connection between sperm motility and fertility and the concentration of calcium in the epididymis.
The scientists explained when the study was launched that the calcium's sperm-damaging effects could be used as a method of contraception for men. However, the implementation of the research results is not easy. In the course of their investigation, the researchers were able to demonstrate that an increased calcium concentration in the epididymis fluid almost eliminates the motility (motility) and fertility (fertility) of the sperm.
Calcium ions crucial for spermatogenesis The scientists at the Homburg Institute for Pharmacology explained that calcium ions play a crucial role in the development of functional sperm. The calcium concentration in the epididymis fluid is regulated within the calcium channels within narrow limits, whereby the mobility and fertility of the sperm requires a decrease in the calcium concentration (to about a quarter) in the course of the development process, explained the Saarland researchers. In their studies with genetically modified mice, whose TRPV6 channel was blocked, such a decrease in the calcium concentration could not take place. The fertility and motility of the sperm was therefore almost eliminated, explained Petra Weißgerber from the Saarland University - specializing in experimental and clinical pharmacology and toxicology.
Blockage of the calcium channel as a method of contraception? According to Petra Weißgerber, the male animals whose calcium channel was blocked were hardly able to produce offspring. In order to derive a new method of contraception from their results, the next step would be to develop a drug that is able to block the TRPV6 channels in humans, the researchers explained. The relationship between the natural fluctuations in calcium ion concentration in the epididymis fluid and possibly involuntary infertility in men has not been investigated in the current study by the Homburg Institute of Pharmacology. However, it was possible to demonstrate the process that the sperm go through when passing through the epididymis and clearly demonstrate a connection between the calcium ion concentration and the development of functional sperm. (fp)
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