Mitochondrial Disease

Definition - What does Mitochondrial Disease mean?

Mitochondrial disease occurs when the mitochondria, otherwise known as "energy factory" of the body, do not work properly. Mitochondria are found in cells and are responsible for generating energy (ATP) for the body. Mitochondrial disease often means that there isn't adequate energy being produced for the body to function normally. Mitochondrial disease can affect fertility in men by deceasing sperm movement (motility) and in woman by reducing egg quality.

FertilitySmarts explains Mitochondrial Disease

Mitochondria contain their own DNA sequences that are susceptible to damage. Portions of the mitochondrial DNA may be deleted or become mutated. Because mitochondria are responsible to all energy production in the cell, any genetic mutation affecting the mitochondria can have consequences that are seen most dramatically in cell requiring high amounts of energy like sperm.

Sperm require a great deal of energy for the flagellum (tail) to move around both to propel to the sperm to the egg and in the early stage of fertilization. In mitochondrial disease, normal energy production is decreased and the sperm are no longer able to move appropriately making fertilization difficult.

Mitochondria are also necessary for the healthy development of eggs which are important for fertilization and the development of a healthy embryo. In eggs affected by mitochondrial disease, the quality of the eggs are reduced which can result in miscarriage or developmental disorders in the fetus.

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