Are Anti-oxidants Keeping You Young and Infertile?
It's a tale with two endings, a conundrum for consumers of antioxidant-rich foods, drinks and facial products. What has been touted as a natural way to slow the aging process by minimizing cell damage via oxidation may be one culprit in female infertility. So suggests Professor Nava Dekel of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel.
From a health report in Israel 21c:
Common antioxidants, including vitamins C and E, neutralize the "reactive oxygen species" molecules our bodies sometimes overproduce in reaction to stress. It seems only logical to keep these reactive oxygen molecules at bay, because an overabundance of them leads to inflammation and cell damage.
However, when Dekel and her research team in the Biological Regulation Department applied antioxidants to the ovaries of female mice, they discovered that significantly fewer eggs were released from the ovarian follicles in comparison to the amount released by untreated ovaries.
Was it possible, they wondered, that the process of ovulation might actually rely on "harmful" reactive oxygen species molecules?
Dekel and her associates decided to test this hypothesis in female mice. They treated one group of female mice with luteinizing hormone (LH), a hormone released by the pituitary gland that is necessary for ovulation to occur, and another group with hydrogen peroxide, H2O2, a reactive oxygen species.
"...H2O2 fully mimicked the effect of LH, bringing about an extensive mucification/expansion of the follicle-enclosed cumulus—oocyte complexes," wrote the researchers in the abstract published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. In other words, hydrogen peroxide induced ovulation in the mice as effectively as the naturally occurring hormone, suggesting that the oxidative process is necessary for healthy fertility.