A study, published in The FEBS Journal, states that taurine deficiency causes infertility in males. The researchers from the University of Tsukuba and Cornell University report the discovery of a cell volume regulator in sperm cells which helps sustain their shape and fertility. The respective study reveals that taurine deficiency can deform sperms, leading to infertility in males.
Taurine is an essential amino acid, often found in the heart, blood, retina, and platelets. It is biosynthesized by the male reproductive organ. Thus, it is abundantly found in the male reproductive system.
It aids various bodily functions and maintains the overall health of an individual. In addition, it regulates fluids and minerals in the blood, supporting the function of eyes, nerves, muscles, and heart.
The researchers of the study employed male rats of different ages. The rats were offered water with taurine and a taurine transport inhibitor. The researchers investigated the effect of taurine by observing,
- The testis marker enzymes
- Sperm quality
- Reproductive hormones
A corresponding author of the research named Atsushi Asano explained that there are sensor mechanisms within cells that compensate for the changes in their osmotic environment. He further added that cells, without these compensatory sensors, experience excessive volume changes.
These extreme volumetric changes lead to a ruptured membrane or other morphological problems. These types of sensors are fairly common in all cells, but they play a significant role in the function of sperm cells.
The study found that cysteine dioxygenase (CDO) is crucial for fertility. Infertile mice lack CDO. However, the male mice with an abundant volume of CDO were reproductively healthy.
CDO is a protein that produces taurine and plays a key role in osmosis. The study suggested that male mice, tagged as infertile, had less taurine in their sperm compared to others. In addition, the researchers found that infertile male mice exhibited lower levels of CDO that ruptured the shape and overall health of sperm cells.
The CDO-deficient mice were nearly twice as likely to have a deformed tail when placed in the environment of a uterus. However, supplementing the mice with extra taurine, strikingly, neutralized the defect.
Ai Ushiyama, the co-author of the study, states that the absorption process is an important survival strategy for sperm during fertilization. This is because mature sperms cannot produce proteins on their own.
The findings of the study convincingly prove that taurine is essential to the fertilization process. However, what exactly taurine was doing in the sperm cells is still to be figured out.
Thus the researchers concluded that CDO is a critical enzyme in the synthesis of taurine. It serves as a pivotal mechanism in male fertility. Taurine production in a sperm cell helps it to survive osmosis inside the uterus.
The findings of the study recommend consuming more taurine-rich foods and taking taurine supplements. Shellfish, specifically mussels, scallops, and clams contain the highest amount of taurine. In addition, chicken liver, salami, bologna, veal, and lamb contain a significant amount of taurine as well. Cooking possibly has no adverse effect on the level of taurine in food.
Apart from taurine deficiency, unhealthy habits such as smoking and drinking alcohol also aid in male infertility. People must avoid these habits and go for a healthy diet with regular exercise in order to maintain an overall good reproductive health.