UNC Study Finds Protein In Male Reproductive Tract Kills Bacteria, May Improve Fertility

Published: May 06, 2004

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.

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