Scientists Use Compound to Enhance Fertility in Mice
A good number of women with infertility issues have to rely on in vitro fertilization (IVF) to have a baby of their own. Australian researchers have now discovered that a non-invasive treatment may help to roll back a woman’s reproductive clock.
In a study published in Cell Reports, scientists at the University of Queensland found that age-related reduction in egg quality was due to a drop in the levels of a particular molecule. They were able to improve fertility rates in mice by boosting the production of the particle.
The molecule in focus helps to generate energy in cells.
This finding could help greatly in dealing with arguably the foremost hurdle to conception among older women.
“Quality eggs are essential for pregnancy success because they provide virtually all the building blocks required by an embryo,” said lead investigator Professor Hayden Homer.
The research was carried out in collaboration with scientists at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).
Boosting fertility in female mice
Homer and his team set out to find out in this study whether a non-invasive treatment could improve fertility. This involved probing whether the oral administration of a compound, which is a precursor to a vital molecule, could make a difference.
The molecule these researchers were mainly interested in was nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD). Its precursor compound was nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN).
According to the researchers, female mice typically begin to experience reduced fertility from around the age of one. This is as a result of the drop in the quality of eggs these animals produce as they get older.
The changes observed in the quality of mice’s eggs are comparable to those affecting eggs in older women.
The scientists added low NMN doses in the drinking water of the mice over a period of four weeks. This treatment led to a remarkable improvement in their egg quality. It raised the number of live births in a breeding trial as well.
Addressing infertility in women
Many older women that are having difficulty conceiving usually turn to IVF if they can afford it. But the approach used in this study offers hope for a less-invasive treatment in the future.
According to Homer, poor egg quality is the biggest hurdle confronting women with infertility issues in developed countries today.
“This is an increasing issue as more women are embarking on pregnancy later in life, and one in four Australian women who undergo IVF treatment are aged 40 or older,” the study leader said.
In vitro fertilization does not improve egg quality. Older women usually turn to younger women for egg donations. This reality makes the findings from the current study all the more interesting.
The findings imply that it might be possible to restore egg quality and reverse the reproductive clock in older women through the use of compounds that boost NAD levels. Such a treatment would be a radically more convenient remedy for reduced fertility.
Homer pointed out, however, that the potential benefits of such NAD-boosting compounds would first need to be proven in clinical trials.