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Infertility affects about 20 percent of the U.S. population and can be incredibly costly; it also costs the livestock industry billions of dollars each year. Researchers at the University of Missouri have found that zinc plays a key role in promoting fertility in males, a discovery that has implications for improved in vitro fertilization and artificial insemination in livestock, and for human infertility diagnostics and therapies.
"Zinc is linked directly with fertility," said Peter Sutovsky, a professor of animal science in MU's College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. "We have known that giving males zinc supplements—whether pigs or humans—improves fertility. Now we know that analyzing zinc signatures can help us quickly evaluate the fertilizing potential and quality of sperm."
Scientists - Capacitation - Process - Sperm - Egg
Scientists have long struggled to understand what regulates sperm "capacitation," the vital physiological process sperm must undergo to become capable of fertilizing an egg cell. Sutovsky and doctoral student Karl Kerns used a state-of-the-art image-based flow cytometer—which can take images of up to 2,000 cells per second and track biomarkers such as zinc with fluorescent dyes—to monitor zinc localization during various stages of capacitation in sperm cells. They found that zinc ions (Zn2+) exert significant control over capacitation beyond merely enabling the process, in that the ion can prevent...
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