antibiotics-pregnancy.jpgWhile we don’t normally share a lot of animal studies, some are worth sharing because of the possible impact on human fertility. In many cases, animal studies are completed before human studies are funded. In this case, an animal study on the antibiotic tetracycline provides enough base information on possible fertility problems to support further study in the human population.

The journal Nature published the study on the effects of tetracycline antibiotics on sperm viability in a pseudoscorpion. The pseudoscorpion is a spider that looks like a scorpion. The researchers treated one-half the animals with tetracycline from birth and the other half was used as a non-treated control. The offspring of both was left untreated. The tetracycline reduced the sperm viability in the animals directly treated and in the male offspring one generation out of the treatment. The third generation showed no signs of being affected by the antibiotic treatments. Female offspring were not affected at all.

Despite the fact that tetracycline-resistance is well documented, the antibiotic is still commonly added to animal feed to prevent or treat the infection. Humans eat the meat of animals treated with the antibiotic and thus the effects of the drug could be passed on to humans. The drug is also used to treat some skin conditions, like acne and rosacea and cholera.

Further research into the effects of long-term tetracycline use on the human male population could unearth a major cause of infertility or reduced fertility. Infertility is on the rise in both males and females, so researchers are on the lookout for possible environmental and lifestyle causes to help stop the increase and possible increase fertility on a natural, genetic level.

Source: Jeanne A. Zeh, Melvin M. Bonilla, Angelica J. Adrian, Sophia Mesfin, David W. Zeh. Nature. 27 April, 2012.