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Bioessays. 2015 Feb;37(2):142-7. doi: 10.1002/bies.201400117. Epub 2014 Nov 7.

On a matter of seminal importance.

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Department of Biological Sciences, NC State University, Raleigh, NC, USA.


Egg and sperm have, understandably, been the "stars" of mammalian fertilization biology, particularly because artificial reproductive technologies allow for fertilization to occur outside of the female reproductive tract without other apparent contributions from either sex. Yet, recent research, including an exciting new paper, reveals unexpected and important contributions of seminal plasma to fertility. For example, seminal plasma proteins play critical roles in modulating female reproductive physiology, and a new study in mice demonstrates that effects of some of these proteins on the female can even affect the health of her progeny. Furthermore, although several actions of seminal plasma have been conserved across taxa, male accessory glands and their products are diverse - even among mammals. Taken together, these studies suggest that the actions of seminal plasma components are important to understand, and also to consider in future development of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) for humans, farm species and endangered species of mammals.


accessory sex glands; insect fertility; mammalian fertility; offspring health; reproduction; reproductive tract physiology; seminal proteins

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