Sunday, May 23

The Male Contribution to Viable Embryos

Centriole definition: a structure found in the cell cytoplasm (cytoplasm: all of the contents outside of the nucleus and enclosed within the cell membrane of a cell) that plays a role in embryo development.

Sperm centrioles were traced from fertilization to the hatching blastocyst stage. The sperm centriole is introduced into the egg at fertilization.

As the male and female aspects of the developing embryo (called pro nuclei) fuse (called syngamy) to become a shared environment of both male and female DNA, centrioles play a pivotal role in cell division (cleavage) of the embryo.

This division, when the embryo goes from a single cell organism to a two cell organism to a four cell organism to an eight cell organism to a sixteen cell organism is called mitosis or cleavage.

Sperm centrioles were detected at all stages of embryonic cleavage from the 1-cell through 8-cell stages, right up to the hatching blastocyst stage.

It is evident that the sperm centrosome ( formed from centrioles and having to do with cell division) is the functional active centrosome in humans, while the female is inactive.

Did you know? Embryos having 7-9 cells on day 3 have an increased chance of developing to the blastocyst stage. A blastocyst is a 5 day embryo and is considered to be of significant quality.

Embryos with <7 cells or >9 cells are less likely to make it to the blastocyst stage.1

My question is this: if a woman consistently produces 4 or 6 cell embryos during a stimulated IVF cycle is it not possible that the male partner’s sperm has some ultra structural defect whereupon centriole quality is subfunctional?

Since we know that the male contribution of healthy centrioles is necessary to facilitate cleavage of embryos to the blastocyst stage, it is my ardent recommendation that male partners of all women who are trying to conceive should also be treated with acupuncture and herbs.

Even when the male partner presents within the normal range for volume, count, morphology and motility, centriole health cannot be easily determined.

Case: A female patient has 15 eggs retrieved during an IVF cycle; 10 fertilize, and 7 survive. She has 7, day 3 embryos ranging in size from 6 to 10 cells with zero fragmentation and a healthy10mm endometrial lining. The reproductive endocrinologist transfers three of these beautiful embryos and the cycle fails.

Why? We do not know for sure: it could be that the embryos were chromosomally abnormal. This can be due to chromosomally abnormal eggs or sperm. It can also be due to the fact that the male centriole health and function were not optimal. This may be considered a ‘hidden’ cause of infertility.

The use of acupuncture and certain herbal medicines can vigorously stimulate blood flow to the testicles carrying oxygen and nutrients, as well as hormones from the brain, as well as electrolytes, while simultaneously carrying debris or dead cells away from the testicles.

This increased delivery of the ‘good’ and increased excretion of the ‘bad’ may improve ultra structural properties of the sperm including centriole quality and function and thereby improve embryo quality and help facilitate cleavage to the blastocyst stage and thereby potentiate take home baby rates.

Summary: It is my opinion, based on clinical experience, that both partners should be treated with acupuncture and herbal medicine when wishing to start or grow a family and is having difficulty doing so.

1. Alikani M, Caulderon G, Tomkin G, et al. Cleavage anomalies in early human embryos for transfer after in vitro fertilization. Human Reprod 1997; 12(7): 1545-1549

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