Male fertility may depend on omega-3 fatty acid

January 30, 2012

New US research shows that docosahexaenoic acid is essential to build a vital sperm-cell structure.

In the study, mice that lack a gene essential to synthesize docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) showed to be infertile due to low sperm count and motility (1). When DHA was introduced into the mice’s diet, fertility was completely restored. The researchers showed that DHA is necessary for the building blocks of the sperm’s ‘acrosome’ to fuse. The acrosome is an arc-like structure that develops over half of the sperm cell’s head that houses and organizes a variety of enzymes which sperm use to penetrate an egg.

The scientists commented that in addition to create healthy sperm, DHA further has numerous health functions. Because DHA is abundant in specific tissues, including the brain and the retina, as well as the testes, the study results could also impact research relating to brain function and vision. DHA deficiencies could play a role, for example, in the development of dementia.

References

  1. Roqueta-Rivera M. et al. Deficiency in the Omega-3 Fatty Acid Pathway Results in Failure of Acrosome Biogenesis in Mice. Biology of Reproduction. 2011; 85 (4):721.