Jiahao Sha and his colleagues at Nanjing University in China studied humans and mice with genetic abnormalities that prevent them from producing a protein called seipin. Lack of seipin causes body fat to degenerate. The researchers found that lack of testicular seipin could cause infertility. However, lack of seipin in adipose tissue has no effect on fertility. The research appears in theProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Scientists are aware of a link between body fat and fertility in men. Obesity makes men less fertile. However, the relationship between low body fat levels and fertility is less clear. One study has shown that men with low BMIs have an increased, but insignificant risk of abnormal sperm count.
To explore this issue further, Sha and his colleagues studied a genetic disorder called Berardinelli–Seip congenital lipodystrophy (BSCL), caused by a mutation that prevents the production of seipin, which normally is produced in adipose tissue, the testes and the brain.
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