Chemical May Offer New Type of Fertility Treatment, Keep Ovaries
Sept. 9, 2005 -- Nitric oxide, the same chemical that helps men achieve an erection, may also help women preserve their fertility and improve their chances of having a healthy baby by fighting the effects of aging on their ovaries.
A new study shows that exposure to nitric oxide delayed the signs of aging in mouse eggs, which, like eggs from older women, deteriorate rapidly and are more difficult to fertilize properly.
"Eggs from older women may be particularly sensitive to aging after they are released from the ovaries," states researcher Husam Abu-Soud, PhD, of Wayne State University, in a news release. "As a result, the time available for optimal fertilization of these women's eggs may be quite a bit shorter than the time frame in younger women."
But exposing the eggs to appropriate levels of nitric oxide "could extend this fertilizable time window in both old and young women," says Abu-Soud.
The results showed that nitric oxide appeared to slow the hardening of the eggs' outer shells, increase the release of molecules that prevent improper fertilization by more than one sperm, and fight other signs of aging that could interfere with fertilization.
Researchers say that in addition to possibly prolonging fertility in women, the results suggest that nitric oxide may help prevent genetic abnormalities during early embryo development, which may have applications in preventing Down syndrome, spontaneous miscarriages, and other problems often associated with pregnancies among older women.
Full article: webmd.com
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