UNC Study Finds Protein In Male Reproductive Tract Kills Bacteria, May Improve Fertility
10/19/2005 5:11:13 PM
Scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have found that a protein they discovered three years ago in the male reproductive tract is a potent anti-bacterial agent. In addition to protecting the male against invading bacteria, the protein may aid fertilization by protecting sperm from harmful organisms encountered in the female reproductive tract.
A report of the study, now online, will be published in the July issue of the journal Endocrinology. Designated DEFB118, the protein is found in the epididymis, a coiled duct through which sperm pass after leaving the testis. During passage through the epididymis, sperm become mature and acquire forward motility and fertilizing ability.