Defending Male Fertility

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Science Translational Medicine  20 Jul 2011:
Vol. 3, Issue 92, pp. 92ps31
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3002743

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An estimated 10 to 15% of couples suffer from infertility, and many treatment decisions rely on trial and error. In this issue of Science Translational Medicine, Tollner and colleagues provide strong evidence from a human genetics study that a common variant in the beta defensin 126 gene, the “del” variant, can reduce male fertility substantially. In addition, they show a plausible mechanism for reduced fertility: Sperm from del/del homozygotes lack an important component of their glycoprotein coat and have difficulty penetrating a surrogate for cervical mucus. If replicated in future studies, these findings promise to guide choices about the timing and type of assisted reproduction interventions—and further hint at the possibility of treating sperm from del/del homozygotes to promote fertility.


  • Citation: S. Rozen, Defending Male Fertility. Sci. Transl. Med. 3, 92ps31 (2011).

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