Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Sperm from marijuana smokers move too fast too early, impairing fertility, UB research shows

14.10.2003


Men who smoke marijuana frequently have significantly less seminal fluid, a lower total sperm count and their sperm behave abnormally, all of which may affect fertility adversely, a new study in reproductive physiology at the University at Buffalo has shown.



This study is the first to assess marijuana’s effects on specific swimming behavior of sperm from marijuana smokers and to compare the results with sperm from men with confirmed fertility. Marijuana contains the cannabinoid drug THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is its primary psychoactive chemical, as well as other cannabinoids.

Results of the study were presented today (Oct. 13, 2003) at the annual meeting of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine in San Antonio.


"The bottom line is, the active ingredients in marijuana are doing something to sperm, and the numbers are in the direction toward infertility," said Lani J. Burkman, Ph.D., lead author on the study. Burkman is assistant professor of gynecology/obstetrics and urology and head of the Section on Andrology in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. UB’s andrology laboratory also carries out sophisticated diagnosis for infertile couples.

"We don’t know exactly what is happening to change sperm functioning," said Burkman, "but we think it is one of two things: THC may be causing improper timing of sperm function by direct stimulation, or it may be bypassing natural inhibition mechanisms. Whatever the cause, the sperm are swimming too fast too early." This aberrant pattern has been connected to infertility in other studies, she noted.

Burkman collaborated on earlier, published UB research that was the first to show that human sperm contains cannabinoid receptors, and that the naturally occurring cannabinoid, anandamide, which activates cannabinoid receptors in the brain and other organs, also activates receptors in sperm. This evidence indicated an important role in reproduction for natural cannabinoids.

Further research in the andrology laboratory showed that human sperm exposed to high levels of THC displayed abnormal changes in the sperm enzyme cap, called the acrosome. When researchers tested synthetic anandamide equivalents on human sperm, the normal vigorous swimming patterns were changed and the sperm showed reduced ability to attach to the egg before fertilization. Only about 10 laboratories in the U.S. perform this array of sperm function tests.

In the current study, Burkman received seminal fluid from 22 confirmed marijuana smokers and subjected the samples to a variety of tests. The volunteers reported smoking marijuana approximately 14 times a week, and for an average of 5.1 years.

Control numbers were obtained from 59 fertile men who had produced a pregnancy. All men abstained from sexual activity for two days before the lab analysis.

The samples from both groups were tested for volume, sperm-count-per-unit of seminal fluid, total sperm count, percent of sperm that was moving, velocity and sperm shape. Sperm also were assessed for an important function called hyperactivation (HA), a closely regulated and very vigorous type of swimming that is required as the sperm approaches the egg. The researchers evaluated HA and velocity while the sperm was in seminal fluid and again after washing and incubation, when the dead sperm were eliminated.

Results showed that both the volume of seminal fluid and the total number of sperm from marijuana smokers were significantly less than for fertile control men. Significant differences also appeared when HA and velocity, both before and after washing, were assessed, the study found.

"The sperm from marijuana smokers were moving too fast too early," said Burkman. "The timing was all wrong. These sperm will experience burnout before they reach the egg and would not be capable of fertilization."

Burkman noted that many men who smoke marijuana have fathered children. "The men who are most affected likely have naturally occurring borderline fertility potential, and THC from marijuana may push them over the edge into infertility," she said.

As to the question of whether fertility potential returns when smokers stop using marijuana: Burkman said the issue hasn’t been studied well enough to provide a definitive answer.

"THC remains stored in fat for a long period, so the process may be quite slow. We can’t say that everything will go back to normal. Most men who have borderline fertility are unaware of that fact. It’s difficult to know who is at risk. I definitely would advise anyone trying to conceive not to smoke marijuana, and that would include women as well as men."


Additional scientists on the study included Herbert Schuel, Ph.D., UB professor of pathology and anatomical sciences, and the staff of the andrology laboratory.

Lois Baker | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.buffalo.edu/

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator
23.02.2018 | University of Turku

nachricht Minimising risks of transplants
22.02.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

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: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

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...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

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...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

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...

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...

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

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>