Study: Sperm may be affected by marijuana

By guldenat · Jan 22, 2009 · ·
  1. guldenat
    [h1]Study: Sperm may be affected by marijuana[/h1]


    NASHVILLE, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- Human male fertility may be impacted by long-term exposure to marijuana, researchers in the United States and Japan suggest.
    The researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville and colleagues said the findings show that genetic loss of fatty acid amide hydrolase -- an enzyme -- results in elevated levels of anandamide, an endocannabinoid, in the male reproductive system, leading to compromised fertilizing capacity of sperm. The endocannabinoid system refers to a group of lipids and their receptors that are involved in a variety of physiological processes including appetite, pain-sensation, mood and memory.
    Retention of fatty acid amide hydrolase on an egg provides evidence that the sperm's capacity to penetrate is dampened by elevated anandamide levels.
    These findings, published in the Biology of Reproduction, point to previously unsuspected pathways regulating sperm function.
    But perhaps more importantly, the results are of great clinical significance because sperm of chronic marijuana users, as well as sperm in fatty acid amide hydrolase-mutant males are exposed to enhanced cannabinoid/endocannbinoid signaling, the researchers said.

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  1. robin_himself
    News From Biology Of Reproduction, February 2009

    Evidence suggests that human male fertility is impacted by long-term exposure to marijuana.

    Indeed, endocannabinoids and their receptors are present in the male reproductive tract, further suggesting a functional role in fertility, but there has been no genetic test to clarify mechanisms. Now, in a paper on p. 235 of this issue, Sun et al. characterize the phenotype of mice genetically lacking FAAH, fatty acid amide hydrolase.

    Male mice homozygous for the Faah knockout have elevated levels of anandamide, an endocannabinoid, in the reproductive system, and their sperm have decreased ability to fertilize due to poor penetration of the egg's zona pellucida. These results point to previously unsuspected pathways regulating sperm function. But perhaps more importantly, they are of great clinical significance: because sperm of chronic marijuana users, as well as sperm in Faah-mutant males are exposed to enhanced cannabinoid/endocannbinoid signaling, clinically beneficial effects of anandamide must be weighed against potentially harmful effects on fertility. (*Note: The term anandamide for the endocannabinoid arachidonoylethanolamide was coined by the discoverer of this compound, Dr. Mechoulam; "ananda" means bliss or ecstasy.)

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