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The Importance of Small Non-Coding RNAs in Human Reproduction: A Revie | TACG – Dove Medical Press

Behnam Kamalidehghan,1,* Mohsen Habibi,2,* Sara S Afjeh,1 Maryam Shoai,3 Saeideh Alidoost,4 Rouzbeh Almasi Ghale,4 Nahal Eshghifar,5 Farkhondeh Pouresmaeili1,6

1Department of Medical Genetics, Faculty of Medicine, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran; 2Central Laboratory, Faculty of Medicine, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran; 3Department of Molecular Neuroscience, UCL Institute of Neurology, London, UK; 4Department of Biology, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran; 5Department of Cellular and Molecular Biology, Faculty of Advanced Science and Technology, Tehran Medical Sciences, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran and Mens Health and Reproductive Health Research Center, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran; 6Mens Health and Reproductive Health Research Center, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence: Farkhondeh PouresmaeiliMens Health and Reproductive Health Research Center, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, IranTel/Fax +98 21-23872572Email pouresfar@gmail.com

Background: MicroRNAs (miRNA) play a key role in the regulation of gene expression through the translational suppression and control of post-transcriptional modifications.Aim: Previous studies demonstrated that miRNAs conduct the pathways involved in human reproduction including maintenance of primordial germ cells (PGCs), spermatogenesis, oocyte maturation, folliculogenesis and corpus luteum function. The association of miRNA expression with infertility, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), premature ovarian failure (POF), and repeated implantation failure (RIF) was previously revealed. Furthermore, there are evidences of the importance of miRNAs in embryonic development and implantation. Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) and miRNAs play an important role in the post-transcriptional regulatory processes of germ cells. Indeed, the investigation of small RNAs including miRNAs and piRNAs increase our understanding of the mechanisms involved in fertility. In this review, the current knowledge of microRNAs in embryogenesis and fertility is discussed.Conclusion: Further research is necessary to provide new insights into the application of small RNAs in the diagnosis and therapeutic approaches to infertility.

Keywords: miRNA, female fertility, male fertility, piwi-interacting RNAs, piRNAs

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Whales Help Explain the Evolutionary Mystery of Menopause – WIRED

There's a rare human trait that doesn't often make it into debates about what makes our species unique: menopause. Humans are among just a handful of species where females stop reproducing decades before the end of their lifespan. In evolutionary terms, menopause is intriguing: how could it be advantageous for reproductive ability to end before an individual's life is over?

One possible answer: the power of the grandma's guidance and aid to her grandchildren. A paper in PNAS reports evidence that supports this explanation, showing that killer whale grandmas who have stopped reproducing do a better job of helping their grandchildren to survive than grandmothers who are still having babies of their own.

Its Not All About the Babies

The engine of evolution is offspring. In simple terms, the more babies you have that survive, the more your genes are passed on, and the better the chance of the long-term survival of those genes.

ARS TECHNICA

This story originally appeared on Ars Technica, a trusted source for technology news, tech policy analysis, reviews, and more. Ars is owned by WIRED's parent company, Cond Nast.

But there are other ways to improve the long-term survival of your genes, and that's where evolution gets a little bit more complicated than just brute-force reproduction. If you invest in your siblings' children, or your children's children, you also improve the survival of the genes you share with them. Like every other survival problem that a species must overcomefood, safety, finding a matethe dynamics of natural selection generate different solutions to the question of how to propagate your genes.

The "grandmother hypothesis" suggests that grandmas play a crucial role in the survival of their grandchildren, which obviously gives the grandmas' own genes a boost. But that doesn't explain why humansalong with killer whales, short-finned pilot whales, belugas, and narwhalsstop reproducing with decades left to live. Wouldn't it be better to just keep having babies of your own and help your grandchildren? Possibly not: in certain species, with certain family dynamics, evolutionary models show that it's more worthwhile for grandmas to invest all their resources in their grandchildren, rather than compete with their own daughters.

There's evidence from humans to support this: the grandchildren of post-reproductive grandmas get a survival boost. But there hasn't been any direct evidence of a post-reproductive grandma benefit in other species that have menopauselike killer whales. Similarly to humans, female killer whales stop reproducing around their late 30s or early 40s but can continue to live for decades after that point. Do killer whales also give their grandkids a boost?

Grandma Has Tricks Up Her Sleeve

Like humans, killer whales live in intensely social family groups. Also like humans, young killer whales need help finding food even after they've been weaned. This means an important role for grandmothers, who can share food with their grandchildren and also impart their decades of accumulated experience and wisdom by guiding their families to historically successful feeding spots.

To test whether post-reproductive killer whale grandmas improve the survival of their offspring, a group of researchers collected data on killer whale populations off the coast of Washington state and British Columbia. They tracked the interactions between hundreds of individual whales, recording births and deaths and controlling for the all-important environmental factor of salmon abundance.

Just like humans, whales can become grandmothers while they're still having babies themselves. Because they were interested in the effects of menopause, the researchers wanted to compare the effects of grandma whales that had stopped reproducing to those that were still having their own offspring.

The results showed that grandma whales played a significant role in the survival of their grandchildren. Survival rates dropped sharply for whales that had recently lost a grandmothereven adult whales of 15 or 20 years old. And this effect was more marked when the grandmother was no longer reproducing herself. It was also more extreme when salmon abundance was lower, suggesting that the ecological knowledge of grandmother killer whales is a crucial resource for their families.

Less Competition

This result ties in well with previous evidence on menopause in killer whales, which found that menopause meant a reduction in competition for resources between grandmas and their daughters.

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Guys Who Exercise More Have Healthier Sperm, Says Study – Men’s Health

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Exercise improves your mood, reduces the risk of heart disease, and may keep your sperm healthy, according to a new study.

For this research, scientists looked at sperm samples from hundreds of men who qualified as sperm donors based on health and semen quality, according to the paper published in Human Reproduction. All men displayed healthy levels of sperm concentration, or the amount of sperm present in semen; sperm morphology, meaning size and shape; and motility, or how well the sperm moves to implant an egg. Guys who logged the highest amount of time being active each week and performed the most intense exercises had better sperm motility, meaning their sperm moved better, the study found.

Regular exercise may improve semen quality parameters among healthy, non-infertile men, study co-author Dr. Yi-Xin Wang of Tongji Medical College of Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, told Reuters.

Although exercise is undoubtedly beneficial, researchers still don't the best length of time or types of exercises that are optimal for sperm health.

Of course, physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, which is shown to keep sperm healthy, according to urologist Dr. Ali Dabaja.

"If you have a lot of body fat, youre going to have a lot of oxidative stress to the body," Dabaja previously told Men's Health.

Higher amounts of oxidative stress has been shown to lower sperm quality, according to Dabaja.

Maintaining an active lifestyle and healthy diet are the best ways to improve sperm health.

Men's Health

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ACCESS TO TREATMENT – Improving global access to fertility care – ESHRE

A Campus meeting in December concluded that global access to effective fertility can be achieved, but only with the combined commitments of fertility education, affordable treatment, and the support of governments.

The solution to unequal access in fertility care lies in a package of approaches which include infertility awareness programmes, safe but affordable IVF, and a commitment from governments to respect human rights.

This was the consensus from the presenters at this ESHRE Campus meeting in December, which, while acknowledging this will not be achieved overnight, will require the cooperation of numerous groups, including medical societies, politicians and patient organisations. The consensus followed several lively open floor discussions among attendees and presenters, with everyone posing for a group selfie as part of a recently launched global fertility education campaign which ESHRE is partnering.

ESHRE's Past Chair Roy Farquharson emphasised the Societys commitment to promoting access to evidence-based practice, engaging with patient organisations and maintaining reprovigilance to protect patients from ineffective treatments (eg, costly add-ons). In addition to publishing expert guidelines and recommendations, ESHREs vision is to set a global standard for practice and research through collaborative networks that accurately design and complete trials.

Initiatives to address need and improve access include the pharma industry's collaboration with societies to produce audits highlighting inequalities, charitable projects to raise awareness among policymakers about infertility, and public campaigns. Sren Ziebe presented details of a project he led in Denmark to highlight the effect of ageing on fertility for men and women in their 30s. His message was that greater fertility awareness is needed in schools, that childbearing should be made a national priority, and for men to be targeted too with fertility education.

Petra De Sutter, from University Hospital Ghent and a member of the European Parliament, highlighted the huge variation in fertility treatment eligibility criteria. Parts of Poland have taken the extreme view of setting up LGBT-free zones, whereas France has recently agreed to grant single women and lesbians state-funded treatment for the first time. This demonstrates the ideological cleavage between political leaders on issues such as surrogacy, a topic on which even the Council of Europe has failed to reach a unified position. De Sutter pointed out the EU can influence, but only when ideology-driven agendas touch on human rights.

These differences should be set aside, she argued. Politicians and governments not the market have a hugely important role in regulation, as evidenced by the CRISPR baby scandal, and should be facilitating debate around innovation and trends in fertility treatment, according to De Sutter. They should also respect human rights and not let sexual orientation influence their decisions. As outlined by an ESHRE task force, any position on single, lesbian and gay couple rights should be considered in the light of scientific evidence.

There was also evidence that affordable treatments do offer a way forward in equalising access. As presented at ESHREs Annual Meeting, Willem Ombelets one-day diagnostic approach for The Walking Egg (TWE) programme, which has now progressed to a lab housed in a container on wheels, has resulted in 180 live births to date, with results appearing better than conventional IVF. What is urgently needed is government funding, volunteers and university support.

Low-cost mild ovarian stimulation protocols, as used by Ombelet and others in suitable patients, can also save money and reduce side effects without compromising success rates. Madelon Van Wely, from the University Medical Center of Amsterdam, in describing affordable stimulation protocols, concluded that the costs of IVF can be reduced by using lower doses of gonadotrophins through milder protocols and the concomitant use of clomiphene citrate or letrozole.(1)

A presentation by Guido Pennings, from the Bioethics Institute, Ghent, explored the ethics of IVF access concentrating particularly on the use of low cost IVF in low to middle income countries, even if (and when) efficiency is below standard. Does low cost also mean low quality, asked Pennings. However, after reviewing evidence he concluded that lower cost/lower quality treatment is acceptable when a large population is in need. Low-cost IVF maximises well-being and reduces inequality in health care, he said. 'A resource-sensitive approach takes into account the limited healthcare budget of a country and the opportunity costs of spending money on infertility treatment,' said Pennings.

In closing this two-day Campus meeting, co-ordinator of the SIG Global and Socio-cultural Aspects of Infertility Virginie Roze called for further studies in fertility care to establish better ways of legally framing ART, to recognise infertility as a public health matter and to fight against discrimination.

1. Wang R, Kim B,Van Wely M, et al. Treatment strategies for women with WHO group II anovulation: systematic review and network meta-analysis. BMJ 2017; 356: doi: 10.1136/bmj.j138.

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Study Finds Guys Who Exercise More Have Healthier Sperm – Men’s Health

While there's no denying the benefits of exercise when it comes to your heart health and wellbeing, a new study is suggesting it may even keep your sperm healthy.

The research, published inHuman Reproduction, analysed samples from hundreds of qualified sperm donors. While all men displayed healthy sperm, those who were more active each week had better sperm motility - how well their sperm moves and it's ability to implant an egg.

Regular exercise may improve semen quality parameters among healthy, non-infertile men, study co-author Dr. Yi-Xin Wang of Tongji Medical College of Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston,toldReuters.

While the findings suggest exercise is beneficial, it's still unclear which type of movement or the best workout length for optimal fertility.

Previously,urologist Dr. Ali Dabajatold Men's Health that maintaininga healthy weight can help with sperm health.

"If you have a lot of body fat, youre going to have a lot of oxidative stress to the body," Dabaja said.

According to Dabaja, an increase in oxidative stress can lower sperm quality.

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Probe into legal status of children born to same-sex couple through surrogacy – Law Society of Ireland Gazette

A child-law expert is to review the legal position of children born through surrogacy to same-sex parents.

Special rapporteur on child protection Dr Conor OMahony will make his recommendations to health minister Simon Harris.

Child-law experts have pointed out the critical importance of accuracy in State certificates, since a birth certificate is the gateway to all other rights as a citizen.

Childrens ombudsman Niall Muldoon has saidthat every child born through assisted reproduction should have full, accurate information on the reality of their lineage and birth this would necessarily include the identity of any gamete donors or surrogates.

Part nine of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 amends the Civil Registration Act of 2004 -- the legal framework for registration of birth. The new law will commence on 5 May.

The words mother and father are expected to be replaced, as appropriate, with parent one and parent two.

No provision has yet been introduced to permit same-sex parents to be registered on the birth certificate of a child born through surrogacy.

But, under the new law, the registrar of births will hold additional information on donor-conceived children.

Under the new law, a donor-conceived child can access this genetic information on their biological origins when they reach the age of 18.

In tandem, the General Scheme of the Assisted Human Reproduction Bill provides for the formation of a National Donor-Conceived Persons Register (NDCPR) -- a move that was first mooted in section 33 of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015.

Use of anonymous gamete donation is also banned, and donors must now sign an active legal consent for the use of their genetic material to conceive a child.

However, there is no legal responsibility, or suggested timescale, for parents to inform children about the truth of their biological origins.

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