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 Using fragment-based approaches to discover new antibiotics
21.06.2018 | SLAS (Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening)

nachricht Scientists learn more about how gene linked to autism affects brain
19.06.2018 | Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

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: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Graphene assembled film shows higher thermal conductivity than graphite film

22.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Fast rising bedrock below West Antarctica reveals an extremely fluid Earth mantle

22.06.2018 | Earth Sciences

Zebrafish's near 360 degree UV-vision knocks stripes off Google Street View

22.06.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>