Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New discovery may help doctors treat infertility


New research suggests that medications commonly referred to as fertility drugs may be ineffective for women who lack a gene called the estrogen receptor beta. The study showed that fertility drugs did not improve ovulation rates in mice that were genetically engineered to lack estrogen receptor beta. The estrogen receptor beta is one of two estrogen receptor proteins which mediate the effects of estrogen hormones and are present throughout the female reproductive tissues. These new data indicate that this receptor plays a critical role in ovulation, and suggests that women who do not have this receptor may benefit more from alternative infertility treatments. The findings are reported in Endocrinology, published in August 2005.

"What we found is that the beta estrogen receptor plays a role in moving the egg outside the ovary so it can be fertilized," said Kenneth Korach, Ph.D., Laboratory Chief at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) where the research was conducted. "We never knew before what function this receptor played in reproduction."

If the results from this animal study are found to be applicable to humans, a simple blood test will be able to provide enough information to determine if a genetic mutation may be altering the function of the estrogen receptor beta. The results of this blood test, coupled with information from other medical tests and evaluations conducted by the physician, will help diagnose infertility and better determine treatment options.

"Dealing with infertility can be emotionally, financially, and physically draining" said Dr. David Schwartz, Director of the NIEHS, a part of the National Institutes of Health, which funded the research. "If we can help couples understand the reasons for their infertility, doctors can further define their treatment options, help them to minimize the expense and risk of taking drugs that may be less effective for them, and increase their chances of having a safe and healthy child," he added.

The NIEHS researchers treated normal female mice and female mice that lack estrogen receptor beta with fertility drugs similar to those commonly used by women undergoing fertility treatments. The mice lacking this receptor are more likely to exhibit infertility or subfertility, including producing fewer offspring, or having less frequent pregnancies. Treatment with fertility drugs did not improve ovulation rates in these studies.

Years of study have shown that the hormone estrogen plays an important role in a variety of systems, most especially female reproduction. However, it was generally thought that there was only one receptor, the alpha receptor, that responded to estrogen. It wasn’t until 1996 that the second receptor, estrogen receptor beta, was discovered. The current study provides evidence that the beta receptor plays a more significant role in ovarian function than the alpha receptor. Researchers would like to further their investigation into the role of the beta receptor by studying women already undergoing fertility treatment.

"The tools and animal models necessary to do these types of studies have only recently become available, but are already helping us to better understand the role of estrogen in the ovary," said John Couse, Ph.D., lead author of the August paper.

An earlier NIEHS study published in the June issue of Endocrinology, used a test tube or in vitro approach, to elucidate the role that estrogen receptors play in ovulation. "The combination of the two different methods, the in vivo and in vitro studies, complement each other nicely and provide more precise answers to the role that the estrogen receptor beta plays in ovulation," said lead author Judith Emmen, Ph.D.

The estrogen receptor beta is also known to respond to environmental and dietary chemicals that can mimic the effects of estrogen and stimulate the body’s natural hormones. One example is genistein, a common component of soy products. These new studies by Korach and colleagues suggest that such environmental exposures could interact with estrogen receptor beta and possibly alter ovarian function in women.

Robin Mackar | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Modular safety concept increases flexibility in plant conversion

22.03.2018 | Trade Fair News

New interactive map shows climate change everywhere in world

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

New technologies and computing power to help strengthen population data

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>