Author Interviews, Fertility, UCSF / 25.03.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Melissa Miller, PhD Postdoctoral fellow at both UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Miller: This work builds on years of observed, but unexplained, phenomena within sperm cells which respond almost instantaneously to the presence of the steroid hormone progesterone. Typically, steroid signaling occurs through a long, slow process that involves the modification of gene amount within a cell. However, there is an alternative mechanism that is not well understood that works differently and is termed non-genomic progesterone signaling. We found that progesterone in human sperm cells binds to a protein called ABHD2 and activates its activity to clear the cell of the endogenous cannabinoid 2AG.  2AG is an inhibitor of sperm activation and its removal from the cellular membrane allows the sperm cells to change its motility so that it may reach and fertilize the egg. Men who’s sperm is unable to undergo this progesterone activated motility change are infertile. (more…)
Author Interviews, Coffee, Fertility, Lifestyle & Health, NIH, OBGYNE / 24.03.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Germaine M. Buck Louis, Ph.D., M.S. Office of the Director Division of Intramural Population Health Research Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Rockville, Maryland 20852. MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: To understand the association between couples’ lifestyles and risk of pregnancy loss.  Couples were recruited upon discontinuing contraception to try for pregnancy and followed daily for up to one year of trying or until pregnancy.  Pregnant women were followed daily for 7 weeks following conception then monthly. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Fertility, OBGYNE, Technology / 19.11.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Kutluk Oktay, MD, PhD. Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Medicine, and Cell Biology & Anatomy Director, Division of Reproductive Medicine & Institute for Fertility Preservation Innovation Institute for Fertility and In Vitro Fertilization New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Oktay: Cancer treatments cause infertility and early menopause in a growing number of young women around the world and US. One of the strategies to preserve fertility, which was developed by our team, is to cryopreserve ovarian tissue before chemotherapy and later transplant it back to the patient when they are cured of the cancer and ready to have children. However, success of ovarian transplantation has been limited due to limitation in blood flow to grafts. In this study we described a new approach which seems to improve graft function. The utility of an extracellular tissue matrix and robotic surgery seems to enhance graft function. With this approach both patients conceived with frozen embryos to spare and one has already delivered. (more…)
Author Interviews, Fertility, OBGYNE / 04.11.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with Dr. Norbert Gleicher, MD, FACOG, FACS Founder, Center for Human Reproduction Background: What’s My Fertility and the Center for Human Reproduction in New York, have announced the first screening for Premature Ovarian Aging (POA) in young women, based on new research that the FMR1 gene can be predictive of POA. Medical Research:   What is Premature Ovarian Aging (POA)? How does POA differ from Premature Ovarian Failure? Dr. Gleicher: Premature Ovarian Aging (POA) is a condition that causes a young woman’s ovaries to age faster than normal. It affects roughly 10% of all women, regardless of race or ethnic background. POA typically causes no symptoms until the ovarian reserve is already very low. Women are born with all their egg cells (called oocytes). Scientists refer to this as a woman’s original “ovarian reserve.” From birth on, significant numbers of these eggs are constantly lost until menopause. As women age, their ovarian reserve, therefore, depletes and fertility declines. In most women, fertility begins to decline around age 35 – but for women at risk for POA, fertility declines can begin as early as in their teens or 20s. POA in early stages typically has no symptoms. Most women until now, therefore, are usually only diagnosed after troubles conceiving become apparent, which brings them to a fertility specialist. At that point, most require stressful and costly infertility treatment to have children. Premature Ovarian Failure (POF), sometimes also called premature menopause of primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) is the end stage of POA, when women reach menopause under age 40. Fortunately, this happens only to 10% of the 10% of women with Premature Ovarian Aging, - which means to 1% of the total female population. In those unfortunate few, even routine IVF can usually no longer help, and most of these women will only conceive with use of young donor eggs.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Fertility, Genetic Research / 09.10.2015

Rajiv McCoy, PhD Dept. of Genome Sciences Univ. of WashingtonMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Rajiv McCoy, PhD Dept. of Genome Sciences Univ. of Washington Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. McCoy:  Aneuploidy—the inheritance of extra or missing chromosomes compared to the typical 46-chromosome set—is extremely common in human embryos. The vast majority of aneuploidies result in preclinical pregnancy loss, often before the pregnancy is even recognized by the mother. This is thought to be the primary reason why only ~30% of all conceptions result in successful live birth. Many aneuploidies arise during egg formation, with the frequency increasing with maternal age. In addition to meiotic errors, a large proportion of aneuploidies affecting cleavage-stage embryos are mitotic in origin, arising during the initial post-fertilization cell divisions. These initial divisions are controlled by machinery contributed by the mother in the egg (before the embryo's genome has been activated). While these mitotic errors are frequent in cleavage-stage embryos, we found that they are rare in embryos at day-5 of development (the blastocyst stage), suggesting that embryos and/or cells with extensive mitotic errors do not survive to day 5. We discovered that some women have a greater propensity to produce embryos with mitotic errors than others, and our idea was that maybe differences in the mitotic machinery could help explain this. Using data from in vitro fertilized embryos screened by our collaborators at Natera, we found that women who have a particular version of a gene called PLK4 tend to produce more aneuploid embryos, regardless of age. This genetic variant is actually very common—more than half of people carry at least one copy—and is present in nearly all populations. PLK4 has a well-known role in ensuring the proper distribution of chromosomes. We also found that patients referred for embryo screening due to previous IVF failure had higher rates of mitotic error, which underscores the clinical importance of this form of whole-chromosome abnormality. (more…)
Author Interviews, Fertility, OBGYNE / 10.09.2015

Audrey J. Gaskins, Sc.D. Postdoctoral Fellow Department of Nutrition Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Boston, MA 02115 MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Audrey J. Gaskins, Sc.D.  Postdoctoral Fellow Department  of Nutrition Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Boston, MA 02115     Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Gaskins: Infertility, defined as the inability to conceive after 12 months of unprotected intercourse, is a common reproductive disorder affecting ~15% of couples who attempt to become pregnant. Assisted reproductive technologies (ART), which include in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), have become the main treatment modalities for couples facing infertility. Pre-conceptional folate and vitamin B12 have been linked to many beneficial early pregnancy outcomes among couples undergoing assisted reproductive technologies treatment in Europe but mixed results have been found in regards to clinical pregnancy and live birth rates. Therefore, we sought to investigate whether higher levels of serum folate and vitamin B12 could increase reproductive success in a cohort of women undergoing assisted reproductive technologies at an academic medial center in the United States. We found that high concentrations of folate and vitamin B12 in serum are associated with increased chance of live birth following assisted reproduction. Moreover, women with higher concentrations of both serum folate and vitamin B12 had the greatest likelihood of reproductive success. Analysis of intermediate endpoints suggests that folate and vitamin B12 may exert their favorable effects on pregnancy maintenance following implantation. (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, Fertility / 28.08.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Camilla Sandal Sejbaek PhD Department of Public Health University of Copenhagen Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Previous literature have shown ambiguous results when investigating the association between becoming a mother and depression among women in fertility treatment. Small questionnaire-based studies with self-reported depression have shown that women in unsuccessful fertility treatment had a higher risk of depressive symptoms compared to women in successful fertility treatment. Two larger register-based studies using clinical depression (depression diagnosed at the psychiatric hospitals) have shown that women becoming a mother are at increased risk of clinical depression. Our findings, from a large register-based study with about 41,000 women in assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatment, showed that women WHO became mothers had a higher risk of clinical depression compared to women in ART treatment WHO did not become mothers. The risk of clinical depression were more than five-fold higher within the first 6 weeks after becoming a mother to a live-born child. (more…)
Author Interviews, Fertility, JAMA / 13.08.2015

Vitaly A Kushnir MD The Center for Human Reproduction New York, NY 10021MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Vitaly A Kushnir MD The Center for Human Reproduction New York, NY 10021 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Kushnir: In January 2013, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine declared the technique of oocyte cryopreservation no longer experimental, although they body did call for further study. Vitaly A. Kushnir, M.D., of the Center for Human Reproduction, and colleagues used 2013 data from 380 U.S fertility centers to compare live birth and cycle cancellation rates using either fresh or cryopreserved donor oocytes. The study found roughly 20 percent of donor cycles used cryopreserved oocytes and 80 percent fresh oocytes. Of those embryos transferred, 56 percent that started as fresh oocytes resulted in live births compared to just 47 percent of those that started as cryopreserved oocytes. (more…)
Author Interviews, Fertility, JAMA, Pediatrics / 11.08.2015

Prof. Dr. med. Christian F. Poets Neonatologie, Univ.-Klinikum Tübingen Tübingen GermanyMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Prof. Dr. med. Christian F. Poets Neonatologie, Univ.-Klinikum Tübingen Tübingen Germany Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Prof. Poets: Episodes of intermittent hypoxemia (lack of oxygen) and bradycardia (slow heart rate) are common in very preterm infants and often a subject of considerable concern. However, up to now there has been a lack of knowledge as to how often or how long such episodes may occur without increasing an infant’s risk for impaired development or even death. In this study, we utilized long-term recordings (lasting 8-12 weeks) of oxygen saturation and heart rate obtained as part of the Canadian Oxygen Trial (COT), a large study performed in extremely immature infants and comparing a higher with a lower oxygen saturation target range (85-89 vs. 91-95% oxygen saturation measured by pulse oximetry). For this secondary analysis, we wanted to test the hypotheses that spending a high proportion of time at an oxygen saturation below 80% or a pulse rate <80 beats per minute increases the risk of the following adverse outcomes:
  1. Death after reaching a post-menstrual age of 36 weeks (i.e. 4 weeks before their due date) or disability, determined at 18-22 months corrected age and defined as motor impairment, cognitive or language delay, severe hearing loss, or bilateral blindness;
  2. Motor impairment (determined at 18-22 months corrected age);
  3. Cognitive or language delay (determined at 18-22 months corrected age);
  4. Severe retinopathy of prematurity.
Medical Research: What are the main findings? Prof. Poets: Analyzable recordings and outcome data were available for 1019 infants, of which the least affected 10% spent 0.4%, and the most affected infants 13.5% of the time at an oxygen saturation <80%. We found that the risk to develop all of the adverse outcomes mentioned above increased with the percentage of time spent at an oxygen saturation below 80%, but this was true only for hypoxemic events lasting for at least 1 minute. Episodes with a low heart rate (in the absence of concomitant hypoxemia) were not associated with an increased risk of an adverse outcome. Interestingly, hypoxemic events occurring in infants originally randomized to the higher oxygen group in the original COT study were associated with a stronger increase in the risk of death or disability than such episodes occurring infants randomized to the lower oxygen saturation target range.  (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Fertility, Nursing, Occupational Health / 08.08.2015

Dr. Audrey J Gaskins Department of Nutrition Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Boston, MAMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Audrey J Gaskins Department of Nutrition Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Boston, MA Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Gaskins: Previous studies have linked shift work, long working hours, and physical factors to an increased risk of menstrual cycle disturbances, spontaneous abortion, preterm birth, and low birth weight; however the association with fecundity is inconsistent. Several papers have also reviewed the occupational exposures of health care workers and concluded that reproductive health issues are a concern. Therefore we sought to determine the extent to which work schedules and physical factors were associated with fecundity in a large cohort of nurses. Women who work in an industry that requires them to work from a height or even lift heavy objects requires them to undertake training which guides them though the effective stages on how to work safely at heights. Without the right training, this sort of work can become very dangerous. Our main findings were that that working >40 hours per week and moving or lifting a heavy load >15 times per day (including repositioning or transferring patients) were associated with reduced fecundity in our cohort of female nurses planning pregnancy. However, all other factors such as frequency of night work, duration of rotating and non-rotating night shifts, and time spent walking or standing at work were not significantly associated with fecundity in this cohort. (more…)
Author Interviews, Fertility, NIH / 29.07.2015

Carmen J. Williams, M.D., Ph.D. Principal Investigator National Institute of Environmental HealthMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Carmen J. Williams, M.D., Ph.D. Principal Investigator National Institute of Environmental Health Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Williams: G-protein coupled receptors are used by almost all cells to receive signals from the outside of the cell and transduce these signals into actions within the cell. There are hundreds of these receptors, but many of them link to a protein named Gq to transmit their signals to other cellular proteins. Gq is found in most cells, including eggs, and activating Gq protein is one way to artificially activate the egg to begin developing into an embryo, even though it is not the way sperm normally do this. In fact, if the egg is activated before the sperm arrives it prevents the sperm from binding and fusing with the egg, so fertilization cannot take place. As a result, we thought that a mechanism might be in place within eggs to prevent them from being activated prematurely by signals that could activate Gq by triggering G-protein coupled receptors. RGS2 was a good candidate for this function because it binds to Gq in a way that prevents Gq from transmitting signals to other cellular proteins. (more…)
Author Interviews, Fertility, Genetic Research, Science / 17.07.2015

Stephen A. Krawetz, Ph.D. Associate Director C.S. Mott Center for Human Growth and Development, Charlotte B. Failing Professor of Fetal Therapy and Diagnosis, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI, 48201MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Stephen A. Krawetz, Ph.D. Associate Director C.S. Mott Center for Human Growth and Development, Charlotte B. Failing Professor of Fetal Therapy and Diagnosis, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI, 48201 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Krawetz: The current study developed over approximately the past 20 years of work in my laboratory.  In the mid 1990s, along with David Miller, we independently discovered that sperm contain RNA.  This was followed by our joint publication in The Lancet that began to describe the RNAs in normal fertile males along with our paper in Nature that showed that RNA was delivered to the oocyte at fertilization.  Following these studies we assessed the ability of RNAs to be used as markers of morphologically abnormal sperm (teratozoospermia).  My laboratory then had the opportunity to explore the complexity of the population of sperm RNAs using Next Generation Sequencing.   We recently began the translation of this work from the bench to bedside which takes us to the current paper in Science Translational Medicine that was a multi-institutional collaborative effort.  Members of the team include Dr. Meritxell Jodar, Edward Sendler, Robert Goodrich, from my laboratory, along with Dr. Clifford L. Librach, Dr. Sergey I. Moskovtsev, and Sonja Swanson - CReATe Fertility Center, University of Toronto; Dr. Russ Hauser -Harvard University and Dr. Michael P. Diamond, Georgia Regents University. Here we tackled the issue of idiopathic infertility, that is, unknown infertility, since the couple appears normal in all respects.  We specifically framed our study as the contribution of the male and female as a couple towards the birth of a healthy child focusing on male idiopathic infertility within the setting of a Reproductive Clinic.  Representative publications from my laboratory that outline this part of my research program appear below. 1)            Jodar, M., Sendler, E., Moskovtsev, S. Librach, C., Goodrich, R., Swanson, S., Hauser, R., Diamond, M. and Krawetz, S.A. (2015) Absence of sperm RNA elements correlates with idiopathic male infertility. Science Translational Medicine, 7(295):295re6. 2)            Sendler, E., Johnson, G.D., Mao, S., Goodrich, R.J., Diamond, M.P., Hauser, R., and Krawetz, S.A. (2013) Stability, Delivery and Functions of Human Sperm RNAs at Fertilization.  Nucleic Acids Research 41:4104-4117. PMID: 23471003 3)            Platts, A.E., Dix, D. J., Chemes, H.E., Thompson, K.E., Goodrich, R., Rockett, J. C., Rawe, V.Y., Quintana, S., Diamond, M.P., Strader, L.F. and Krawetz, S.A. (2007)  Success and failure in human spermatogenesis as revealed by teratozoospermic RNAs.  Human Molecular Genetics. 16:763-773.  PMID: 17327269 4)            Ostermeier, G.C., Miller, D., Huntriss, J.D., Diamond, M.P. and Krawetz, S.A. (2004) Delivering spermatozoan RNA to the oocyte.  Nature 429:154.  PMID: 15141202 5)            Ostermeier, G.C., Dix, D.J., Miller, D., Khatri, P. and Krawetz, S.A. (2002) Spermatozoal RNA profiles of normal fertile men. The Lancet. 360:773-777.  PMID: 12241836 (more…)
Author Interviews, Fertility, Genetic Research, NEJM, University of Pittsburgh / 04.06.2015

Alexander N Yatsenko, MD, PhD Assistant Professor, Department of OBGYN and Reproductive Science, Magee-Womens Research Institute, University of Pittsburgh, PA  Pittsburgh, PA 15213MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Alexander N Yatsenko, MD, PhD Assistant Professor, Department of OBGYN and Reproductive Science, Magee-Womens Research Institute, University of Pittsburgh, PA Pittsburgh, PA 15213 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Yatsenko: The known causes of male infertility not due to physical obstruction are usually because of sex-chromosome defects, such as deletions of the Y chromosome or duplication of the entire X chromosome in Klinefelter syndrome. Eight times out of 10, conventional genetic testing doesn’t reveal a chromosomal problem and infertility is considered idiopathic. We wanted to try to find other genetic reasons for the problem. We found a deletion in part of the DNA coding of the testis-expressed gene 11 (TEX11) on the X-chromosome, which men inherit from their mothers. The alteration caused meiotic arrest, meaning the precursor cells could not properly undergo meiosis. We also found similar TEX11 gene mutations and meiotic arrest in two out of 49 men diagnosed with idiopathic azoospermia in Pittsburgh or at a Poland infertility clinic, and in five out of 240 infertile men assessed at a collaborating Andrology clinic in Muenster, Germany. These genetic findings were confirmed on protein level using patients’ testis biopsies. (more…)
Author Interviews, Fertility, Stanford / 17.05.2014

Michael Eisenberg, MD, PhD Director, Male Reproductive Medicine and Surgery Assistant Professor, Department of Urology Assistant Professor, Department of Obstetrics and GynecologyMedicalResearch. com Interview with: Michael Eisenberg, MD, PhD Director, Male Reproductive Medicine and Surgery Assistant Professor, Department of Urology Assistant Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Stanford School of Medicine
MedicalResearch:   What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Eisenberg: There is an inverse relationship between semen quality and mortality so that as semen quality declines the likliehood of death increases. (more…)