DHA preserves male fertility

The head of a sperm cell is made up of a structure called the acrosome that contains enzymes necessary for digesting through an egg cell during fertilization. The acrosome also evolves throughout sperm maturity morphing from a round structure to a sleeker, pointed cap to promote movement through a woman’s cervical fluid.

A study out of the University of Illinois recently found that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid, is critical for acrosome development to occur in male fertility.

Using a mouse model, researchers observed that knockout of DHA synthesis resulted in infertile male mice when characteristics such as sperm count, shape, and motility, and the breeding success rate were measured.

When the scientists introduced a dietary supplement of DHA to these infertile mice, their fertility was completely restored and sperm characteristics were normalized.

Further analysis concluded that inhibition of DHA synthesis actually resulted in incomplete formation of the acrosome cap.

DHA is synthesized in humans from dietary sources of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) or it can be supplemented from foods such as fish or taken as a nutritional supplement in fish oil.