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CF Tain, HH Goh and SC Ng

The present study examined the dose-response effects of eCG treatment alone and in combination with various doses of hCG on early embryonic development in vivo and viable pregnancy rate in rats. Mated female Wistar rats were treated with eCG alone (0, 10, 20 or 40 iu), or with 20 iu eCG in combination with various doses of hCG (10, 20, 40 or 80 iu) administered 48 h later. The animals were killed on days 2, 3, 4, 5 or 14 of pregnancy and the numbers of embryos and fetuses recovered were scored. All rats treated with 0 or 10 iu eCG were pregnant. The pregnancy rate was reduced from 62.5% on day 2 to 25% on day 14 and from 31% on day 2 to 10% on day 14 in the groups treated with 20 and 40 iu eCG, respectively. The reduction in pregnancy rate induced by 20 iu eCG was negated by the increasing doses of hCG used. A 100% pregnancy rate was noted on days 2 and 3 in the groups treated with doses of hCG between 10 and 80 iu and from day 2 to day 4 in the groups treated with doses of hCG between 20 and 80 iu. However, a higher viable pregnancy rate was observed only in the group treated with 10 iu hCG compared with the group treated with 20 iu eCG and 0 iu hCG. These results imply that hyperstimulation of rats with high doses of eCG compromises pregnancy rate and markedly reduces litter size and that the addition of hCG is required for complete ovulation, which results in higher embryo yield and a delay in early embryo demise.

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EL Yong, F Ghadessy, Q Wang, A Mifsud and SC Ng

Male sex steroids (androgens) are important for maintaining sperm production and growth of the accessory sex organ, the prostate gland. This article examines the role of the androgen receptor (AR) in the control of spermatogenesis and focusses on the N-terminal transactivation domain of the receptor, a poorly studied region that is essential for receptor function. This domain is of great interest because of its causative relationship to a fatal neuromuscular disease, spinal bulbar muscular atrophy (Kennedy's syndrome). Genetic screening of the transactivation domain of the AR gene of 153 patients presenting solely with defective spermatogenesis and male infertility, and of over 72 healthy fertile controls was performed. Up to 20% of infertile males have reduced androgenicity caused by an increase in length of a polymorphic trinucleotide (CAG) repeat segment, encoding a polyglutamine tract, of the androgen receptor. The increased risk of male infertility associated with long CAG lengths is associated with reduced risk of prostate cancer. Conversely, short polyglutamine tracts are associated with increased risk of prostate cancer but a reduced risk of male infertility. Thus depressed spermatogenesis and prostate cancer represent opposite ends of the spectrum of androgen receptor transactivation function. Improved understanding of androgen receptor action in these two important public health concerns could lead to rational and effective prevention and therapy.