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 Team discovers how bacteria exploit a chink in the body's armor
20.01.2017 | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

nachricht Rabies viruses reveal wiring in transparent brains
19.01.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

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: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>