Setareh Jahandideh

How trans fats affect male fertility? 

July 21, 2019

TEHRAN- Dietary trans fatty acids can have negative effects on sperm quality, but how it happens? 

Scientists in Royan Research Institute tried to answer the question. 

Many studies have suggested that trans fatty acids can have negative effects on semen quality; however, the process is still unclear, says Dr. Alireza Alizadeh from Royan Institute. 

Trans fat, also called fatty acids or trans fatty acids, is a type of unsaturated fat that occurs in small amounts in meat and milk fat. It became widely produced industrially from vegetable and fish oils in the early 20th century for use in margarine and later also in snack food, packaged baked goods, and for frying fast food.

According to Dr. Alizadeh, fat tissues are one of the places where hormones are produced, so the first question was if fatty acids can affect the expression of genes that are involved in fat tissues (Adipose tissues). 

These genes, he said, are related to steroid metabolism.  

The results suggested that trans fats mainly changed estrogen metabolism, that could lead to hormone imbalance in men and negatively affect sperm parameters.
“The main question is can fatty acids alter the synthesis pathways of these genes? This means that the expression of genes are changed and the balance is disrupted; subsequently, the level of progesterone and estrogen is changed and this will influence fertility,” said Dr. Alizadeh.   

Gene expression is the process by which information from a gene is used in the synthesis of proteins. 

According to Dr. Alizadeh, the findings revealed changes in expression of genes involved in estrogenic metabolism rather than those engaged in androgenic metabolism after fatty acids consumption.

“The results suggested that trans fats mainly changed estrogen metabolism, that could lead to hormone imbalance in men and negatively affect sperm parameters,” he said. 

“In recent years, the quality of fat tissues (Adipose tissues) has come under greater focus as studies suggest that the quality of fat tissues is more important than their quantity. For example, we see many fat men who are perfectly fertile, so the quality of AT and its constituent fatty acids seem to be far more important,” he added.  

The study was tested on male rats, and it can lead to further examinations on human and more definite results.

Concern about male reproductive health has grown in recent years to become a major preoccupation in some developed countries. A possible decline in human sperm concentration was suggested in the early seventies following studies in the U.S.

According to Health Line, infertility affects about one in every six couples, and researchers estimate about one in every three cases is due to fertility problems in the male partner alone. 

Semen quality and male fertility depends on a variety of factors including age, environment, lifestyle, physical activity, genetic background and occupation.

SJ/MG

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