Seminal NGF protein may promote fertility

A recent study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports the discovery of a protein in semen that may help induce ovulation in humans.

Nerve growth factor (NGF) is a chemical identified in llama semen that is known to induce ovulation in female llamas.

Though humans ovulate independent of stimulation by seminal NGF, the ovaries have been found to produce NGF and affect the production of eggs.

Furthermore, Gregg Adams, veterinary surgeon and reproductive scientist at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada, believes that seminal NGF may function like a hormone. By penetrating the walls of the vagina, it may enter the woman’s circulation and signal other reproductive hormones.

The discovery of this protein may lead to an increased understanding of human infertility.  For example, “a couple could have fertility problems if the man failed to produce enough NGF in his semen or the woman lacked the receptors to detect and respond to it,” said Adams.