Infertility Linked to Cholesterol Gene in Women
This gene also affects progesterone production and may be the cause of infertility in a substantial number of cases.
This breakthrough comes from a new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the US and is published online in the journal Human Reproduction.
The gene responsible is the scavenger receptor class B type 1 gene (SCARB1) and this new research follows up studies in female mice that first linked a deficiency in these receptors for HDL – the so-called “good” or “healthy” cholesterol – and infertility. Now researchers report finding the same link in studies of women with a history of infertility when they analyzed ovarian cells and fluid collected from 274 women unable to become pregnant for various reasons and undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Endocrinologist Annabelle Rodriguez, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins said “Right now, the benefit of this research is in knowing that there might be a genetic reason for why some women have difficulty getting pregnant. In the future, we hope this knowledge can be translated into a cure for this type of infertility.” She believes the genetic variation could be present in 8 to 13 percent of the population and that means potentially being able to help a substantial number of women.
The researchers have also developed a simple blood test for this variation of the gene, but this knowledge has not so far led to any approved therapy. It would seem logical though to ensure that a woman’s progesterone levels are healthy and balanced before looking to start a family.