A joke among two Texas AgriLife Research scientists later turned into a fully-funded study found Viagra can aid fetal development in female sheep. Female sheep (ewes) are an agriculturally important species, which can serve as an excellent animal model for studying the physiology of human pregnancy, the researchers said.
Viagra (sildenafil citrate), which is used to treat male erectile dysfunction, enhanced blood flow in pregnant female sheep, helping send vital amino acids and other nutrients needed in fetal development. The study’s results not only will assist with solving fetal development problems in other livestock, but possibly in humans, said Dr. Guoyao Wu, AgriLife Research animal nutritionist and Senior Faculty Fellow in the Department of Animal Science at Texas A&M University.
“Because 5 percent to 10 percent of infants are born as low birth-weight babies worldwide, and because fetal-growth retardation is also a significant problem in livestock species, our findings have important implications for both human health and animal agriculture,” Wu said.
The findings appear in a recent edition of The Journal of Nutrition (http://www.nutrition.org/).
The study originated in 2003 after a chat between Wu and fellow AgriLife Research scientist Dr. Tom Spencer when they were working with pregnant ewes.
“We made a joke that many men are now using Viagra and that women may also have a need for it,” Wu said. “Interestingly, one week later, we saw that Pfizer Inc. announced an international request for research proposals on Viagra.”
The team submitted a proposal to Pfizer, using pregnant sheep as an animal model for evaluating Viagra's potential role in enhancing fetal growth. The research team would also evaluate both adequate or inadequate maternal intakes of nutrients from the diet, Wu said.
Pfizer selected the proposal and work began.
“Viagra acts like nitric oxide to relax smooth muscle cells of blood vessels and, in turn, allow for increased uterine blood flow," Wu said.
The drug is a synthetic medicine that can be used to stimulate blood flow in humans and animals.
“For pregnant mammals, Viagra can enhance the supply of nutrients from the mother to the fetus via utero-placental blood flow,” he said.
The study revealed Viagra increased the blood supply to the fetus in female sheep, supplying amino acids – a major fuel for fetal growth. Approximately 60 ewes were mated to rams at the Texas A&M University Sheep Center. Pregnant females were randomly selected and treated with or without sildenafil citrate.
Results of the study indicated long-term use of Viagra enhanced fetal weight in both “adequately fed and nutrient-restricted female sheep.” Greater concentrations of amino acids and polyamines in fetal blood and placental fluids were found, leading the researchers to suggest that Viagra alters the trafficking of nutrients from the female sheep to the fetus.
It was also observed that Viagra did not affect changes in maternal weight, body condition score, maternal liver mass or muscle weight, Wu said.
“We were surprised that Viagra enhanced ovine fetal growth under the conditions of either adequate or inadequate maternal intakes of nutrients from the diet. The results of our study indicate that augmenting systemic blood flow may be a novel and effective strategy to prevent fetal growth retardation in humans and livestock species without affecting maternal health.”
Wu said the team would like to extend its research into future studies involving other mammalian species, including pigs, cows and humans.
The research team includes Fuller Bazer, Carey Satterfield, Spencer and Wu - all AgriLife Research scientists and faculty members with the animal science department at Texas A&M in College Station.
Editor’s Note: The following can be used as a breakout box.
AT A GLANCE:
- Texas AgriLife Research scientists have found that Viagra can be beneficial in promoting fetal growth in pregnant sheep.
- The findings could lead to future studies involving human pregnancies, leading to potential discoveries reducing the number of infants born as low birth-weight babies with reduced chances of survival and increased risks for adult onset of disease.
- Fetal development has been a focus of study in livestock species because small offspring do not do well after birth.
- Viagra (sildenafil citrate) was found by researchers to increase blood flow to the uterus and fetus in female sheep, supplying amino acids ( a major fuel for fetal growth), as well as other essential nutrients.
Source: Texas AgriLife ResearchBy: Blair Fannin, 979-845-2259
Dr. Guoyao Wu | EurekAlert!
Microjet generator for highly viscous fluids
13.02.2018 | Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology
Sweet route to greater yields
08.02.2018 | Rothamsted Research
A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.
In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...
A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.
By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...
Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy