Abuse and Neglect, Cancer Research, Fertility, Immunotherapy / 27.03.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Kenneth S. K. Tung, M.D. Professor of Pathology and Microbiology Director of UVA Research Histology Core Beirne B. Carter Center for Immunology Research University of Virginia MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: The immune system needs to see tissue antigens to avoid responding to them in order to prevent autoimmune disease development. The current dogma, stated in all Immunology and Reproductive Biology textbooks, considers the sperm antigens in the testis to be exempted from this process. They are considered totally hidden behind a tissue barrier, and are invisible to the immune system. Because sperm antigens are treated as foreign molecules, they should stimulate strong immune response when employed in cancer vaccines against antigens common to sperm and cancers. It is also believed that sperm molecules are protected by local factors that inhibit inflammation, whereas systemic mechanisms such as regulatory T cells would not exist. The paradigm has restrained ongoing research on systemic tolerance to sperm, and the need to understanding systemic regulation in infertility research (more…)
Author Interviews, Endocrinology, Fertility / 15.03.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Matthias Straub Senior Director, Clinical Development Abbott MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The Lotus I study provides clinical evidence that oral dydrogesterone is a treatment option for women who undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment. The current standard of care for IVF globally is micronized vaginal progesterone (MPV), which is administered vaginally. The Lotus I study concludes that oral dydrogesterone is similarly well-tolerated and efficacious compared to MVP, while being easier to administer than MVP. (more…)
Author Interviews, CMAJ, Fertility, Heart Disease, Women's Heart Health / 13.03.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Jacob A. Udell MD MPH FRCPC Cardiovascular Division Women's College Hospital Toronto General Hospital University of Toronto  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: We’ve noticed for a long time that fertility drug treatment can cause short-term complications such as high blood pressure or diabetes in pregnancy. We recently started wondering whether there may be long term consequences for these women years after a baby was or was not born.  To do this, we looked at all women who were treated with fertility therapy in Ontario for the last 20 years, from what we could determine this amounted to more than 28,000 women. We then followed up years later to examine every woman’s cardiovascular health. (more…)
Author Interviews, CDC, Fertility, OBGYNE / 11.02.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Saswati Sunderam, PhD Division of Reproductive Health National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion CDC. MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Assisted Reproductive Technology Surveillance – United States, 2014, the surveillance summary published this week in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), presents state-specific data on assisted reproductive technology (ART) use and outcomes. The report compares ART infant outcome data with outcomes for all infants born in the U.S. in 2014, and provides data on the contributions of  Assisted Reproductive Technology to total infants born, multiple birth infants, low birth weight infants, and preterm infants for each U.S. state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Fertility, OBGYNE, Pediatrics / 30.01.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Tamar Wainstock, PhD Department of Public Health; Faculty of Health Sciences Ben-Gurion University of the Negev ISRAEL MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: There is a controversy in the medical literature regarding the possible association between infertility or infertility treatments, and the long-term offspring neoplasm risk: while some studies have found such an association, others have not. Since the number of offspring conceived following treatments are growing, and as they age, it is critical to clarify this possible association. (more…)
Author Interviews, Emory, Fertility, OBGYNE / 01.12.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Jennifer F. Kawwass, MD, FACOG Assistant Professor, Emory Reproductive Center Director of Third Party Reproduction, Emory Reproductive Center MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: With the increasing use of assisted reproductive technology (ART), the number of cryopreserved embryos in storage has increased, as residual viable embryos from an in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle may be frozen for future use. Each embryo maintains attributes reflective of the age of the female at time of the original oocyte retrieval. Embryo donation, a form of third-party reproduction, involves donation without compensation of previously formed embryos to another couple for implantation. Limited published data exist detailing outcomes of donor embryo cycles. Patients and clinicians would benefit from information specific to donor embryo cycles to inform fertility treatment options, counselling, and clinical decision-making. We sought to quantify trends in donor embryo cycles in the United States, to characterize donor embryo recipients, and to report transfer, pregnancy, and birth outcomes of donor embryo transfers. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Fertility, OBGYNE / 21.11.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: David McLernon PhD MPhil BSc Research Fellow in Medical Statistics Medical Statistics Team Institute of Applied Health Sciences University of Aberdeen Foresterhill Aberdeen MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Normally when a couple attend a fertility clinic to begin IVF treatment they are only informed about their chances of having a baby for the first attempt of IVF. In actual fact the first treatment is often unsuccessful and many couples will go on to have several complete cycles of the treatment– each involving the transfer of one or two fresh embryos potentially followed by one or more frozen embryo transfers. We felt that a prediction model that could calculate the chances of having a baby over the complete package of treatment would provide better information for couples. (more…)
Author Interviews, Endocrinology, Fertility, OBGYNE / 21.10.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Kavita Vedhara FAcSS Professor of Health Psychology Division of Primary Care School of Medicine University Park,Nottingham MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: There has been a longstanding interest in the role of the hormone cortisol in fertility, because of its potential to affect the functioning of the biological systems that influence both conception and pregnancy. This interest has extended to IVF, with researchers exploring the relationship between levels of the hormone and pregnancy since the advent of the treatment in the late 1970s. However, a recent review showed that the relationship between cortisol and pregnancy in IVF was unclear. A number of reasons were highlighted for this, including that all of the studies to date had relied on short-term measures of the hormone measured in blood, saliva, urine and sometimes follicular fluid. Such measures can only capture hormone levels over a matter of minutes and hours. Such ‘snapshots’ are unable to give us an accurate picture of the levels of hormone over longer periods of time. This is important because any clinically relevant effects of cortisol on fertility are only likely to occur in the context of long-term changes in the hormone. In recent years it has become possible to measure long-term levels of cortisol in hair. Cortisol is deposited in the hair shaft and because human hair grows, on average, 1cm per month, a 3cm sample of hair closest to the scalp can tell us about levels of cortisol in the previous 3 months. We used the development of this technique to examine whether long term levels of cortisol (as measured in hair), or short term levels of cortisol (as measured in saliva) could predict whether or not women going through IVF would become pregnant. If you are trying to obtain a perfect cortisol balance, I use this product that helps to do just that. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, Endocrinology, Fertility / 03.09.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Anders Rehfeld MD, PhD Student Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine University of Copenhagen Copenhagen Denmark MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Human fertility is declining in many areas of the world and the reason is largely unknown. Our study shows that 44% of the tested chemical UV filters can induce calcium signals in human sperm cells, thereby mimicking the effect of progesterone. Progesterone-induced calcium signals, and the sperm functions it triggers, is absolutely essential for the human sperm cell to normally fertilise the human egg. (more…)
Author Interviews, Fertility, OBGYNE, PNAS / 23.08.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Peter Sutovsky PhD Professor of Animal Science in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources University of Missouri Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health at the School of Medicine University of Missouri Health System MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Strictly maternal inheritance of mitochondria, the cellular power stations, and mitochondrial genes that mitochondria harbor, is a major biological paradigm in mammals. Propagation of paternal, sperm-contributed mitochondrial genes, resulting in a condition called heteroplasmy, is seldom observed in mammals, due to post-fertilization elimination sperm mitochondria, referred to as “sperm mitophagy.” Our and others’ recent results suggest that this process is mediated by the synergy of ubiquitin–proteasome system (UPS) pathway that recycles outlived cellular proteins one molecule at a time, and autophagic pathway capable of engulfing and digesting an entire mitochondrion. Here we demonstrate that the co-inhibition of the ubiquitin-binding autophagy receptor proteins SQSTM1, GABARAP, and UPS, and the UPS protein VCP dependent pathways delayed the digestion of sperm mitochondria inside the fertilized pig egg. By manipulating said proteins, we created heteroplasmic pig embryos with both the paternal and maternal mitochondrial genes. Such animal embryos that could be used as a biomedical model to research and alleviate certain forms of mitochondrial disease. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Fertility, JAMA, OBGYNE / 20.07.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Alexandra W. van den Belt-Dusebout, PhD Department of Epidemiology The Netherlands Cancer Institute The Netherlands MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: In vitro fertilization (IVF) is commonly used, but because of the relatively recent use of IVF, long-term breast cancer risk is not yet known. Female sex hormones have been shown to affect breast cancer risk. Because sex hormone levels during hormonal stimulation of the ovaries for IVF are up to 10 times higher than in natural cycles, IVF was expected to increase breast cancer risk. (more…)
Author Interviews, Fertility, HPV, OBGYNE, STD / 12.07.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dejan R. Nonato, MD, PhD Institute of Tropical Pathology and Public Health School of Medicine Federal University of Goiás Goiânia, GO, Brazil MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Human papillomavirus (HPV) and Chlamydia trachomatis (CT) share the same route of sexual transmission and possess similar risk factors, indicating that co-infection may act synergistically in the induction of epithelial cell abnormalities. (more…)
Author Interviews, Fertility, Herpes Viruses, Infections, PLoS / 09.07.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Roberta Rizzo PhD Department of Medical Sciences Section of Microbiology University of Ferrara Ferrara, Italy MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Infertility affects approximately 6% of 15-44 year old women or 1.5 million women in the US, according to the CDC. Approximately 25% of female infertility cases are unexplained, leaving women with few options other than expensive fertility treatments. Researchers are trying to identify factors and mechanisms at the basis of this condition. (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, Fertility / 04.07.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Jessica Datta Department of Social & Environmental Health Research London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine London MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: The paper presents an analysis of data from the third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-3). Natsal-3 is a survey of more than 15,000 women and men aged 16-74 resident in Britain, conducted in 2010-2012, which includes a wide range of questions about sexual relationships and behaviour and reproductive history. In this paper we analysed responses to the questions: ‘Have you ever had a time, lasting 12 months or longer, when you and a partner were trying for a pregnancy but it didn’t happen?’ and ‘Have you (or a partner) ever sought medical or professional help about infertility?’. As well as calculating the prevalence of experience of infertility and help seeking, we looked at associated factors e.g. education, employment, relationship status. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Fertility, OBGYNE / 09.05.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Scott Sills MD, PhD Medical Director at the Center for Advanced Genetics an IVF program based in Carlsbad, California  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Sills: Often regarded as a miracle procedure by many infertile couples, in vitro fertilization (IVF) can be financially difficult for those without insurance coverage for the treatment. This prohibitive cost leads many would-be parents who pursue IVF to transfer multiple embryos at once, to increase their chances of getting a baby and minimize the need for additional attempts. This new study now reports that the economic impact of IVF deserves a closer look. As corresponding author E. Scott Sills, MD PhD noted, rates of cesarean-section deliveries, premature births, and low birth weight of babies are all greater with two or more embryos transferred to the mother at once, compared to a lower risk, single-embryo pregnancy. The data derived from a comprehensive analysis of all IVF cases in Vermont (UVM) and was recently published in the journal Applied Health Economics & Health Policy. It is believed to be the first effort to calculate the difference in infant hospital costs based on the number of embryos transferred. Sills and his team had access to UVM Medical Center records of patients who conceived through IVF and delivered at least 20 weeks into their pregnancies between 2007 and 2011. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cannabis, FASEB, Fertility / 20.04.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Paola Grimaldi, PhD Associate Professor of Anatomy Department of Biomedicine and Prevention, School of Medicine, University of Rome Tor Vergata Rome, Italy MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Grimaldi: Our previous studies reported that mouse mitotic germ cells, spermatogonia, express type 2 cannabinoid receptor (CB2) and its stimulation promoted differentiation and meiotic entry of these cells in vitro. In this study we demonstrate that CB2 plays a role of in regulating the correct progression of spermatogenesis in vivo and we found that the use of exogenous agonist or antagonist of this receptor disrupts the normal differentiation of germ cells. This suggests that a basal and finely regulated level of endocannabinoids in male germ cells activate CB2, thus maintaining the homeostasis of spermatogenesis. Another important novelty of our study is that CB2 activation in developing germ cells determines the appearance of modifications in DNA-bound proteins, which are known to impact on gene expression and inheritance of specific traits in developing germ cells. An exciting idea could be that these modifications might be maintained in the mature spermatozoa and transmitted to the offspring. (more…)
Author Interviews, CDC, Fertility, OBGYNE, Pediatrics / 06.04.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Sheree L. Boulet, DrPH, MPH Division of Reproductive Health Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Atlanta, Georgia MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Dr. Boulet: Findings from some studies have suggested that children conceived with assisted reproductive technology (ART) have increased risks of birth defects compared with spontaneously conceived children. Many of these studies were limited by a small sample size and were unable to assess risks associated with specific ART procedures. MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings? Dr. Boulet: We found that singleton infants conceived using assisted reproductive technology were 1.4 times more likely to have a non-chromosomal birth defect compared with other infants, and the risks were highest for gastrointestinal and musculoskeletal defects. However, when our study was restricted to only ART-conceived infants, no single procedure substantially increased the risk for birth defects. This suggests that the higher risk of birth defects may be due to underlying issues related to infertility, rather than to ART itself. (more…)
Author Interviews, Fertility, Toxin Research / 01.04.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Anders Rehfeld MD, PhD Student University of Copenhagen Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine Copenhagen, Denmark MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? DrRehfeld: Human fertility is declining in many areas of the world and the reason is largely unknown. Our study shows that 44% tested chemical UV filters can induce calcium signals in human sperm cells, thereby mimicking the effect of progesterone and possibly interfering with the fertilizing ability of human sperm cells. Progesterone-induced calcium signaling, and the sperm functions it triggers, is absolutely essential for the human sperm cell to normally fertilize the human egg. (more…)
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, Endocrinology, OBGYNE / 25.09.2015

Richard S. Legro, MD Vice Chair of Research and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Public Health Sciences Penn State College of MedicineMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Richard S. Legro, MD Vice Chair of Research and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Public Health Sciences Penn State College of Medicine Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Legro: Weight loss is recommended for obese women with PCOS, but there are no randomized studies to show that it improves fertility outcomes. Both Lifestyle modification and oral contraceptives are also recommended for chronic treatment of women with PCOS so that this study has relevance to all obese women with PCOS. We designed this study to prospectively examine the effects of these common treatments on reproductive, metabolic and quality of life parameters, as well as on fertility in women seeking pregnancy. The main findings are summarized in the abstract and conclusion to the study.  I would repeat those here.  I would highlight that quality of life improved in all treatment groups, but the group that had both oral contraceptives and lifestyle modification had a significant improvement in their physical well-being compared to the oral contraceptive group. (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, 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…)