Fer­til­ity: Pu­trescine Wa­ter May Be Foun­tain of Youth for Hu­man Eggs

IVF India - - Unplugged - Courtesy: sciencedaily.com

An Ot­tawa sci­en­tist has dis­cov­ered a crit­i­cal rea­son why women ex­pe­ri­ence fer­til­ity prob­lems as they get older. The break­through by Dr. Johné Liu, a se­nior sci­en­tist at the Ot­tawa Hos­pi­tal Re­search In­sti­tute and pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Ot­tawa, also points to a sim­ple so­lu­tion that could in­crease the vi­a­bil­ity of egg cells for women in their late 30s and older -- pu­trescine wa­ter.

In an on­line edi­to­rial pub­lished by Ag­ing based on his re­cently pub­lished find­ings, Liu out­lines how a sim­ple pro­gram of drink­ing wa­ter or tak­ing a pill that con­tains the nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring com­pound pu­trescine could re­duce the rate at which mid­dle-aged women pro­duce eggs with the in­cor­rect num­ber of chro­mo­somes, the lead­ing cause of re­duced fer­til­ity and in­creases in mis­car­riages and con­gen­i­tal birth de­fects.

Pu­trescine is nat­u­rally pro­duced in mam­mals by an en­zyme called or­nithine de­car­boxy­lase, or ODC, and is eas­ily ab­sorbed and cleared by the body. In fe­male mam­mals, ODC lev­els are known to rise dur­ing ovu­la­tion, when the egg cell ma­tures and is re­leased from the ovary. Dr. Liu has shown that ODC lev­els rise very lit­tle in older fe­males. He has also shown that in­hibit­ing ODC lev­els in young mice leads to an in­crease in egg cells with chro­mo­so­mal de­fects. Tak­ing this a step fur­ther, Dr. Liu's team gave older mice pu­trescine wa­ter in the pe­riod im­me­di­ately lead­ing up to and dur­ing ovu­la­tion, and found that it re­duced the in­ci­dence of de­fec­tive eggs by more than 50%. This is a re­mark­able out­come for such a sim­ple ap­proach," says Dr. Liu. "How­ever, we could not have imag­ined this with­out first un­der­stand­ing the role that ODC and pu­trescine play in main­tain­ing the chro­mo­so­mal in­tegrity of egg cells. While there is work to be done be­fore it can be ap­proved for clin­i­cal use, we feel this ap­proach could be used for nat­u­ral con­cep­tion as well as in vitro fer­til­iza­tion."

Al­though promis­ing, a pu­trescine pill is still a long way from be­ing avail­able on the mar­ket. Pu­trescine is toxic to the fe­tus if it is ad­min­is­tered af­ter con­cep­tion, which makes tim­ing, dosage and mon­i­tor­ing crit­i­cal. Ac­cord­ingly, this ap­proach must go through the ap­pro­pri­ate stages of test­ing to de­ter­mine its clin­i­cal safety and ef­fec­tive­ness in hu­mans. The full pa­per, "De­fi­ciency of ovar­ian or­nithine de­car­boxy­lase con­trib­utes to ag­ing-re­lated egg ane­u­ploidy in mice," was re­cently ac­cepted for pub­li­ca­tion on­line ahead of print by Ag­ing Cell. The edi­to­rial was pub­lished on­line by Ag­ing on Novem­ber 23. Yong Tao of the Ot­tawa Hos­pi­tal Re­search In­sti­tute and the Univer­sity of Ot­tawa is co-author on both pub­li­ca­tions. Fund­ing for this re­search was pro­vided by a Dis­cov­ery Grant from the Nat­u­ral Sciences and En­gi­neer­ing Re­search Coun­cil of Canada and a par­tial schol­ar­ship from the Cana­dian In­sti­tutes of Health Re­search's Train­ing Pro­gram in Re­pro­duc­tion, Early De­vel­op­ment, and the Im­pact on Health.

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