Guess what, guys? It turns out your sperm is more complicated than researchers ever knew.
Scientists always knew that a fertilized egg cell — or a zygote — required two centrioles from the sperm in order to create a fetus. The going theory used to be that sperm contained one centriole, which duplicated itself once it entered the egg.
But according to a new paper published in the journal Nature Communications, sperm actually contain two centrioles. The newly-discovered centriole — known as the “atypical centriole” — contains a set of proteins that the previously-known centriole needs to do its job once the egg is fertilized, according to a press release.
According to the researchers, the new finding may help explain issues with infertility.
“This research is significant because abnormalities in the formation and function of the atypical centriole may be the root of infertility of unknown cause in couples who have no treatment options available to them,” said Dr. Tomer Avidor-Reiss, professor in the UT Department of Biological Sciences. “It also may have a role in early pregnancy loss and embryo development defects.”
How was this new centriole discovered?
The team used advanced microscopes to study human sperm samples obtained from a cryobank — and found a new centriole that looked different from the one they already knew about.
“We found the previously elusive centriole using cutting-edge techniques and microscopes,” Avidor-Reiss said in the press release. “It was overlooked in the past because it’s completely different from the known centriole in terms of structure and protein composition.”
It’s too early to say whether or not we can blame infertility on this one component of sperm, but the team believes the finding is huge — and plans to do additional research.
“We are working with the Urology Department at The University of Toledo Medical Center to study the clinical implications of the atypical centriole to figure out if it’s associated with infertility and what kind of infertility,” Avidor-Reiss said.
But until the research provides an answer, there are ways you can boost fertility naturally. Limiting alcohol, eating antioxidant-rich foods like berries and maintaining a healthy weight can all help improve the health of your little swimmers.
By Melissa Matthews