Researchers newly discovered a sperm structure that could partially be responsible for infertility.
Apparently, semen is more complicated than what existing studies suggest. The newly found sperm structure, according to the team of researchers, could pave the way for them to understand better the issues surrounding infertility.
For years, it has been known that a fertilized egg cell or zygote requires two centrioles from a sperm to create a fetus. Previous studies suggest that sperm only has one centriole which duplicates itself once it penetrated the egg.
However, a new study published by researchers from the University of Toledo in the journal Nature Communications that sperm actually contains two centrioles. Dubbed as ‘atypical centriole,’ the newly discovered sperm part allegedly has a set of proteins that the previous centriole requires to help fertilized an egg.
“This research is significant because abnormalities in the formation and function of the atypical centriole may be the root of infertility of unknown cause in couples who have no treatment options available to them,” Dr. Tomer Avidor-Reiss, professor in the UT Department of Biological Sciences, said in a statement. “It also may have a role in early pregnancy loss and embryo development defects.”
The centriole is said to be the cellular structure that could only be provided by males. It is the origin of all the centrioles found in the trillions of cells making up the adult human body. Aside from creating life, centrioles contribute mainly to the building of cell’s antennae called cilla, the cytoskeleton, and the completion of correct cell division.
“Since the mother’s egg does not provide centrioles, and the father’s sperm possesses only one recognizable centriole, we wanted to know where the second centriole in zygotes comes from,” Avidor-Reiss further explained.
Using state-of-the-art microscope technology, the team examined human sperm samples they gathered from a cryobank.
“We found the previously elusive centriole using cutting-edge techniques and microscopes. It was overlooked in the past because it’s completely different from the known centriole in terms of structure and protein composition.”
While it is still early to blame this new sperm structure for infertility, the researchers believe that it is still a significant discovery that requires further study.
“We are working with the Urology Department at The University of Toledo Medical Center to study the clinical implications of the atypical centriole to figure out if it’s associated with infertility and what kind of infertility,” Avidor-Reiss went on to say.