Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Opioids and cannabinoids influence mobility of spermatozoids

20.06.2008
A PhD thesis from the University of the Basque Country has concluded that there are opioid and cannabinoid receptors in human sperm and that these influence the mobility of spermatozoid. The research by Mr Ekaitz Agirregoitia opens the door to more effective treatment of fertility problems.

Freshly released spermatozoids cannot achieve fertilisation, they must undergo some changes for this to occur. Amongst other, such changes take place due to receptors situated in the plasmatic membrane (the layer covering the cells) and opioid and cannabinoid receptors are two of these.

On coming into contact with these, physiological reactions are generated in the body which are similar to, for example, sedation, analgesia and low blood pressure. Moreover, according to the research undertaken to date, both substances have an influence on the process of fertilisation.

It is known that the consumption of external opiates (heroin, methadone) reduces the mobility of spermatozoids and that external cannabinoids (hachis) causes changes in the reproductive process. Also, the body itself generates internal opioids and cannabinoids, secreted to enable us withstand pain or stress situations, and it is also known that this phenomenon affects the reproduction process.

Despite all this being previously known, there has been no thorough study of the opioid and cannabinoid receptors in the human sperm such as this one, carried out by Mr Ekaitz Agirregoitia Marcos for his PhD thesis, defended at the Faculty of Medicine and Odontology of the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) and entitled in Basque, Opioide-hartzaileak eta kannabinoide-hartzaileak giza espermatozoideetan espresatzen dira eta haien mugikortasunean eragiten dute (Opioid receptors and cannabinoid receptors are expressed in human spermatozoids and influence their mobility).

The aim was to define this expression and the location of three opioid receptors and two cannabinoid receptors, as well as to analyse the influence of their activity in the mobility of spermatozoids. Mr Agirregoitia has a degree in Biology, specialising in Health Sciences. He is currently working as a substitute lecturer in the Department of Physiology, giving classes in Medical Biophysics and General Physiology. His PhD work was led by Dr. Jon Irazusta Astiazaran from the same Department and was undertaken in collaboration with Dr. Carmen Ochoa of the Euskalduna Clinic and Dr. Manolo Guzmán from the Complutense University in Madrid.

Pinpointing the receptors

This PhD has shown, for the first time, that all the types of opioid and cannabinoid receptors are found in human sperm. To date, only the MU opioid receptor has been found in equine sperm, and the presence in human sperm of the CB1 cannabinoid receptor was only discovered this year. Dr. Agirregoitia has used a number of techniques to find three opioid receptors (DELTA, KAPPA and MU) and two cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) in the human sperm. According to his research, all these are found at the head, the middle and the tail of the spermatozoids.

How is mobility influenced?

After defining the expression and location of the opioid and cannabinoid receptors, Dr. Agirregoitia initiated an analysis of their influence on the mobility of the spermatozoids. These receptors act like a kind of lock catch mechanism to which the opioids and cannabinoids attach themselves. Some of these substances (agonists) are capable of activating the cells, just like a key opening a lock. Others (antagonists), although fitting perfectly into the “locks”, are not capable of opening them and have the effect of blocking the receptor. Mr Agirregoitia studied both processes, incubating human sperm with agonist and antagonist synthetic substances to this end.

From this PhD thesis, presented at the UPV/EHU, it was concluded that, for the movement of the spermatozoids to be maintained, a minimum number of DELTA receptors must remain active. On the other hand, it is pointed out that the activation of the MU opioid receptor inhibits the mobility of the spermatozoids, i.e. it causes them to slow down. Finally, the PhD concludes that the KAPPA opioid receptor participates in another process which has nothing to do with mobility.

As regards the cannabinoid system, the activation of the CB1 y CB2 receptors causes the percentage of spermatozoids with rapid and progressive mobility to be reduced. Even so, as a consequence of the activation of the CB1 receptor, the number of slow spermatozoids rises, while the activation of CB2 increases the number of spermatozoids with progressive but slow movement.

The most effective diagnoses and treatments

It is known that opiods and cannabinoids regulate the function of reproduction through the central nervous system and, according to this PhD thesis, they are also able to control the process through the receptors located in the spermatozoids themselves. Thus, the type and concentration of internal opioids and cannabinoids found in the spermatozoid on its way to the egg will condition its mobility.

This work opens the door – in the medium to long term – to the diagnosis and treatment of numerous pathologies. For example, an analysis of the components of the system of opioid and cannabinoid receptors would enable us to better understand fertility problems due to currently unknown causes, exhibited by both spermatozoids as well as the female reproductive organ. Also, when designing treatment aimed at fomenting the mobility of spermatozoids, it will enable the prescribing of treatment that activates or inhibits the appropriate receptor in order to benefit the process of fertilisation.

Alaitz Ochoa de Eribe | alfa
Further information:
http://www.basqueresearch.com/berria_irakurri.asp?Berri_Kod=1802&hizk=I

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht 'Living bandages': NUST MISIS scientists develop biocompatible anti-burn nanofibers
16.02.2018 | National University of Science and Technology MISIS

nachricht New process allows tailor-made malaria research
16.02.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

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...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

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...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Japanese researchers develop ultrathin, highly elastic skin display

19.02.2018 | Information Technology

Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?

19.02.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Studying mitosis' structure to understand the inside of cancer cells

19.02.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>