Significance of prostaglandins in semen?

Significance of prostaglandins in semen?

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I am trying to figure out how prostaglandins in the semen relate to the female reproductive tract. More specifically, How does prostaglandins in semen help the female reproductive tract increase the chance for fertilization?

Nevermind. While writing out the question I found the answer on wikipedia. Prostaglandin type PGF2α will act on the FP receptor to initiate uterus contraction which will help propel sperm further into the reproductive tract.

Prostaglandins: Definition, Roles & Associated Conditions

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Prostaglandins are powerful hormone-like substances that have diverse functions in the human body, most notably controlling the immune response and inflammation. Both high and low levels play roles in different chronic disorders, so it&rsquos essential to keep them in check. Read on to learn what prostaglandins are, how they work, and how they affect your health.

Providing a Semen Sample

In order to test your semen, your doctor will ask you for a semen sample:

  • You’ll probably be asked to ejaculate into a collection cup in a private room at your doctor’s office.
  • Sometimes you can collect your sample at home. If so, you’ll have to keep it at room temperature and get it to your doctor or lab within 1 hour. Some doctors provide you with a special condom that collects your semen during sex.
  • Don’t use lubricants when you collect your sample because they can affect how easily your sperm can move around.

While at-home tests can give you a quick check of your sperm count, these won’t measure other things about your sperm, like shape or movement. So a normal result on a home test doesn’t guarantee fertility. You’ll need to talk with your doctor to get a complete picture of what’s going on.

The purpose of semen

Semen, technically called seminal fluid, is specially designed by the body to protect, nurture and transport sperm cells on their journey into the female body to give them the best chance of fertilizing an egg. It is highly optimized to do this job perfectly. It contains key nutrients (such as zinc and vitamin C) that provide energy and protect sperm cells from getting damaged. It is thicker than most liquids and is designed to stick to the cervix to help sperm get as close to the egg as possible. It has a slightly alkaline pH and works to counteract the acid (hostile) vaginal secretions which can harm sperm. It is also full of proteins and hormones that send signals to the female immune system and reproductive tract that prime it for potential pregnancy. Like John Stockton, Magic Johnson or Russell Westbrook, semen is untouchable in the sheer number of assists that it provides to would be sperm on their journey to the egg. Sperm make babies. Semen provides all the support.

What Causes High Prostaglandin Levels?

Prostaglandins, made from arachidonic acid, are elevated in response to inflammation. Now, this is not always a bad thing. Inflammation is the body’s response to infection and injury, and it usually resolves once the body heals. Inflammation is an important part of our survival.

However, inflammation can also be caused by other factors, which can increase prostaglandins and lead to painful periods. One such factor is a poor diet, rich in Omega 6s. Human beings need Omega 6 (it is an essential fatty acid) but we also need it to be in a balanced ratio with Omega 3s.

Unfortunately, the ‘traditional' western diet is high in Omegs 6s, and woefully low in Omega 3s. Once that ratio becomes distorted, excessive and chronic inflammation can occur. Chronic inflammation is where the problems like painful periods begin, in this case because prostaglandins are elevated.

  • Vegetable oils (like sunflower, corn, and soybean oil)
  • Fast food (often cooked in vegetable oil)
  • Commercially raised poultry

However, Omega 6s are also found in nuts and seeds, an important part of a healthy diet for many people. They are not all bad. It’s important to try to optimize that Omega 6 to 3 ratio to help reduce inflammation.


noun, plural: prostaglandins
A group of eicosanoids, structurally characterized as 20-carbon unsaturated fatty acids with a five-carbon ring, and extremely potent mediator of a diverse group of physiological processes
Eicosanoid is the generic term to refer to the compounds derived from arachidonic acid or other polyunsaturated fatty acids of 20-carbon length. Some of the prominent eicosanoids include (1) eoxins, (2) leukotrienes, (3) lipoxins, (4) prostacyclin, (5) prostaglandins, (6) resolvins, and (7) thromboxanes.
Prostaglandin is an eicosanoid that is derived from unsaturated 20-carbon fatty acids, such as arachidonic acid, through the cyclooxygenase pathway. In particular, prostaglandin is produced from arachidonic acid by the action of cyclooxygenase that produces cyclic endoperoxides (PGG2 and PGH2) that can give rise to prostacyclin or thromboxanes as well as prostaglandins.
Its name is derived from prostate gland because it was thought of as the tissue producing prostaglandins as they were originally discovered in the semen. Later, it was found out that it was produced by the seminal vesicles and many other tissues.
There are several prostaglandins and they are designated by appending a letter, i.e. from A to I, to indicate the type of substituents found on the hydrocarbon skeleton. A subscript, e.g. 1, 2, 3…, is used to indicate the number of double bonds in the hydro-skeleton. Naturally-synthesized prostaglandins have two double bonds and are synthesized from arachidonic acid (5, 8, 11, 14 eicosatetraenoic acid). The 1- and 3-series are produced in the same pathway with fatty acids having one fewer double bond (8, 11, 14 eicosatrienoic acid or one more double bond (5, 8, 11, 14, 17 eicosapentaenoic acid) than arachidonic acid.
All of the prostaglandins act by binding to specific cell surface receptors causing an increase in the level of the intracellular second messenger cyclic AMP (and in some cases cyclic GMP also). The effect produced by the cyclic aMP increase depends on the specific cell type. In some cases there is also a positive feedback effect. Increased cyclic AMP increases prostaglandin synthesis leading to further increases in cyclic AMP.
Prostaglandins are extremely potent mediators of a diverse group of physiological processes. They are involved in the contraction of smooth muscle. They are also involved in the control of inflammation and body temperature. They have a variety of important roles in regulating cellular activities, especially in the inflammatory response where they may act as vasodilators in the vascular system, cause vasoconstriction or vasodilation together with bronchodilation in the lung and act as hyperalgesics.
Prostaglandins are rapidly degraded in the lungs and will not therefore persist in the circulation. Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) acts on adenylate cyclase to enhance the production of cyclic AMP. Depending on the receptor it activates, it has various effects. For instance, PGE2 that binds with prostaglandin E2 receptor 1 (EP1) leads to gastrointestinal tract smooth muscle contraction whereas with prostaglandin E2 receptor 2 (EP2), it is involved in gastrointestinal tract smooth muscle relaxation. Other prominent types of prostaglandins naturally produced are prostaglandin D2 and F. Prostaglandin D2 (PGD2) is produced by mast cells and works chiefly by recruiting Th2 cells, eosinophils, and basophils. Prostaglandin F (PGF) is involved in uterus contraction and bronchoconstriction.
Prostaglandins, because of their hormone-like activity, are sometimes referred to as tissue hormones.

  • Prostaglandin A
  • Prostaglandin B
  • Prostaglandin D2
  • Prostaglandin E2
  • Prostaglandin endoperoxides
  • Prostaglandin f2a tromethamine
  • Prostaglandin F2-alpha
  • Prostaglandin I2
  • Prostaglandin r2 d-isomerase
  • Prostaglandin-f synthase
  • Prostaglandins a synthetic
  • Receptors prostaglandin
  • Receptors prostaglandin e

What Factors Affect Prostaglandin Production? (with pictures)

Prostaglandin production is affected by many factors, including natural body processes, diet, and drugs. The body produces prostaglandins in response to tissue or blood vessel injury. The ingestion of various types of dietary fats stimulates the body to produce prostaglandins, some beneficial and some potentially harmful. Finally, the production of prostaglandin can be controlled through non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin.

The body’s production of the fatty-acid derivative prostaglandin has effects on nearly every organ of the body. Some prostaglandins cause inflammation, fever, and pain in response to illness or injury, while other types inhibit the inflammatory response. Prostaglandins also cause uterine contractions during pregnancy. They act in a way that is similar to hormones in that they cause changes in body processes, but they are produced in body cells in the area where their action is required.

Aspirin and other NSAIDs act to reduce prostaglandin production and reduce pain and inflammation, but they also inhibit the production of beneficial prostaglandins. Another class of drugs called selective COX-2 inhibitors act to reduce only pro-inflammatory prostaglandin production while leaving beneficial prostaglandins alone.

The production of prostaglandin has an important role in causing the uterine contractions that lead to childbirth. To induce labor, prostaglandins can be applied to the cervix or taken orally. Interestingly, seminal fluid also contains prostaglandins, leading to the scientifically disproven theory that having sexual intercourse will stimulate labor.

As prostaglandins are derived and synthesized from fatty acids, the diet can be used to either suppress antagonistic prostaglandins that cause pain and inflammation or to stimulate beneficial prostaglandin production to decrease inflammation. Foods that are high in saturated animal fat, like red meat and dairy, contain arachidonic acid (AA). This fatty acid is a precursor of antagonistic prostaglandin production that produces inflammation in the body, including the type of prostaglandin that increases uterine contractions.

Foods containing plant oils and B vitamins, like nuts and seeds, contain linoleic acid (LA), which is converted to gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) in the body. LA and GLA stimulate anti-inflammatory prostaglandin production. Fish oils containing eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), evening primrose oil, and borage oil supplements also contain high amounts of GLA.

Other substances may increase beneficial production of prostaglandin while suppressing inflammatory prostaglandins. Bromelain is an enzymatic substance derived from pineapples that has been used historically to treat inflammatory conditions. Although results have been mixed, some studies show that it suppresses inflammatory prostaglandins produced as the result of osteoarthritis, digestive disorders, and sinusitis. Turmeric, mangosteen, and pomegranate have also shown prostaglandin-suppressing qualities and should be studied further for their effects on prostaglandin production.


▪ Abstract Prostaglandins and other eicosanoids are oxygenated metabolites of certain polyunsaturated fatty acids. These compounds are well known for their important actions in mammalian physiology and disease. Recent work has revealed the presence and biological actions of eicosanoids in insects and many other invertebrate animals. In insects, eicosanoids mediate cellular immunity to microbial and metazoan challenge. Notably, some infectious organisms secrete factors responsible for impairing host insect immune reactions by inhibiting biosynthesis of eicosanoids. Eicosanoids also act in insect reproductive biology, in ion transport physiology, and in fever response to infection as well as in protein exocytosis in tick salivary glands. Aside from ongoing actions in homeostasis, certain eicosanoid actions occur at crucial points in insect life histories, such as during infectious challenge and important events in reproduction.

Significance of prostaglandins in semen? - Biology

An important part of any breeding soundness exam is an evaluation of sperm morphology. In the most fundamental case, the size and shape of the head, midpiece and tail are examined. Additional information can be gained by evaluating integrity of the acrosome and sperm membranes.

Sperm from different species vary in size and shape. Bull and human sperm, for example, have paddle-shaped heads, rodent sperm have hook-shaped heads, and the heads of chicken sperm are spindle-shaped and almost difficult to distinguish from the midpiece. The images shown below of rat, bull and chicken sperm are all at the same magnification.

The results of a sperm morphology exam are reported as percent normal. It is always the case that some sperm from an ejaculate are morphologically abnormal, but when that fraction becomes excessive, fertility may decrease. It is also useful to subclassify the abnormal population into the types of abnormality observed. Two types of classification schemes are commonly used:Abnormalities can be classified as affecting the head, midpiece or tail. The most basic type of classification scheme differentiates primary and secondary abnormalities:

  • Anatomic site of the defect: The problem can involve the head, midpiece or tail . Some abnormal sperm may have defects in more than one site.
  • Primary versus secondary defects: Primary defects are the more severe and are thought to originate while the sperm was still within the semeniferous epithelium of the testis. Secondary defects are less serious and thought to arise during passage thought the epididymis or by mishandling after ejaculation. Some authors question the utility or physiologic basis of this pattern of classification.

Preparing Slides for a Basic Morphology Examination

Many different staining techniques have been devised for examining sperm morphology. An nigrosin-eosin stain is commonly used because it is effective, simple and, in addition to allowing sperm to be readily visualized, it is a so-called "live-dead" stain, allowing one to assess membrane integrity at the same time as morphology. The technique for preparing an eosin-nigrosin-stained slide is as follows:

  • Have microscope slides and nigrosin-eosin stain prewarmed to body temperature.
  • Pipet a drop of stain onto the end of a slide, then pipet a small droplet of semen next to the stain.
  • Place the edge of another slide into the drops of stain and semen - rock that slide back and forth a few times to mix the sperm and stain, then smear the second slide across the surface of the first.
  • Dry the slide rapidly by placing in on a warming plate or waving it back and forth in the air.
  • Examine using a bright field microscope (typically using a 40-100X objective lens).

The nigrosin-stain stain produces a dark background on which the sperm stand out as lightly colored objects. Normal live sperm exclude the eosin stain and appear white in color, whereas "dead" sperm (i.e. those with loss of membrane integrity) take up eosin and appear pinkish in color, as shown above with sperm from an Asian elephant (courtesy of J. K. Graham) .

Another stain that can be used, and is demonstrated below, is toluidine blue. This staining procedure produces very nice preparations, but is more difficult and time consuming that nigrosin-eosin.

Finally, a technique preferred by many for evaluating sperm morphology is to use no stain at all, but to visualize sperm under differential interference contrast microscopy. The sperm are first fixed with glutaraldehyde, and can be stored for prolonged periods in that solution. This procedure is particularly useful for assessing acrosomal integrity.

Why Does It Taste So Salty?

Claim: Female student embarrassingly asks biology instructor why semen tastes salty.

Example: [Collected on the Internet, 1993]

The day’s lesson was on sex, etc., and the teacher mentioned how sperm is 80% sugar (or something like that) whereupon a girl asks out loud, “How come it tastes so salty then?” She turns beet red and runs from the room.

variation the instructor mentions that the amount of an average human male ejaculation is only about a teaspoon. One female student perks up and inquires, “Why does it make such a big mess, then?”

This story most likely originated as a joke in a more chauvinistic era, intended as a quick, humorous of women that combined their perceived unsuitability for traditionally male pursuits (such as science) with a trivializing view of them as mere sex objects. A similar legend, The Tell-Tale Swab, employs the same basic structure and theme.


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