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The chicken or the egg: parallel interests

      It is not unexpected that the material published in medical journals would reflect the research interests of those on the editorial board. If an article is perceived as irrelevant, it will not be honored with publication. Here, we highlight the parallels in interest between certain members of the editorial board of Fertility and Sterility in 1970 with articles published in the May 1970 issue.
      Sheldon Segal, Ph.D., a member of the editorial board, was a key player in the development of long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs). He was an embryologist and biochemist who, in 1963, became the medical director of the Population Council’s biomedical research laboratories. In 1970, he founded the International Committee for Contraception Research. Dr. Segal dedicated his career to the development of LARCs such as the Copper IUD, the Mirena IUD, and Norplant.
      In the May 1970 issue of Fertility and Sterility, Lifchez and Scommegna wrote on “diffusion of progestogens through Silastic rubber implants” (
      • Lifchez A.S.
      • Scommegna A.
      Diffusion of progestogens through Silastic rubber implants.
      ). The experiment described foreshadows the development of both the Nexplanon (etonogestrel) implant, the most effective form of contraception on the market today, and the Mirena IUD system. Different-size subcutaneous silicone implants filled with different progestins (progesterone, provera, norgestrel, or chlormadinone acetate) were placed in rats and the daily release of medication was measured over the course of 8 weeks. Progesterone was noted to diffuse at a much higher rate than the other three progestins and did not appear to reach a steady rate of release, which the other three progestins did after the first week. The authors then performed a similar experiment in women; however, rather than placing the capsules subcutaneously, they were attached to a modified Lippes intrauterine loop and placed inside the uterus. The capsules were removed at 1–7 days after insertion, and the amount of steroid released was calculated based on the remaining amount of progestin in the capsule. They found that the amount of progestin released was proportional to the length of the capsule. Based on their findings, the authors recommended focusing future efforts in the development of subcutaneous implants or progestin-containing intrauterine devices on synthetic progestins, given their ability to provide long-term sustained release of steroids and to achieve a steady rate.
      Similarly, three of the 11 editors of Fertility and Sterility in 1970 had careers focused on male infertility: Richard D. Amelar, M.D., author of “Infertility in Men,” John MacLeod, Ph.D., responsible for establishing the original cutoff for oligospermia, and Bruce H. Stewart, M.D., a respected urologist. In the May issue, three of the nine original articles focused on advances in male infertility: “Nomarski interference contrast microscopy of human, monkey, and rabbit spermatozoa” (
      • El-Minawi M.F.
      • Moskal P.A.
      • van Pelt L.
      Nomarski interference contrast microscopy of human, monkey, and rabbit spermatozoa.
      ), “Duration of transit of spermatozoa through the human male ductular system” (
      • Rowley M.J.
      • Teshima F.
      • Heller C.G.
      Duration of transit of spermatozoa through the human male ductular system.
      ), and “Carbohydrate metabolism in infertile and impotent males” (
      • Goldman J.A.
      • Schechter A.
      • Eckerling B.
      Carbohydrate metabolism in infertile and impotent males.
      ).
      El-Minawi et al. (
      • El-Minawi M.F.
      • Moskal P.A.
      • van Pelt L.
      Nomarski interference contrast microscopy of human, monkey, and rabbit spermatozoa.
      ) described how the Nomarski interference contrast microscope not only helped to characterize morphologic anomalies in human spermatozoa, but also provided insights regarding three-dimensional characteristics of such spermatozoa. Previously, this technology had primarily been used for studying the structure of crystals, plant mitosis, subarachnoid structures, and sporulation of bacilli.
      Rowley et al. (
      • Rowley M.J.
      • Teshima F.
      • Heller C.G.
      Duration of transit of spermatozoa through the human male ductular system.
      ) used intratesticular injections of 3H-thymidine and testicular irradiation to determine the most rapid, average, and maximal ductular transit time for human spermatozoa. Although it is unlikely that such an experiment would obtain institutional review board approval today, they did limit their population to men undergoing vasectomies. The authors determined that the shortest transit time was 1 day, the median transit time 12 days, and the maximal transit time 21 days.
      In the third of these articles, Goldman et al. (
      • Goldman J.A.
      • Schechter A.
      • Eckerling B.
      Carbohydrate metabolism in infertile and impotent males.
      ) sought to determine if there was a relationship between glucose intolerance and male infertility. Three groups of men with a history of infertility and no family history of diabetes were included: those with azoospermia or severe oligospermia, those with impotence, and those with normal sperm counts. Despite the clear relationship between diabetes mellitus and erectile dysfunction, there was no significant difference in oral glucose tolerance between the groups. However, after pretreating with prednisone and then administering a glucose tolerance test, the authors found that the impotent group had decreased carbohydrate tolerance, suggesting that impotent men may have altered carbohydrate metabolism.
      In the May 1970 issue, it is clear to see the parallels in interest between those on the editorial board and the articles chosen for publication. The question is, What comes first: the chicken or the egg? Are those on the editorial board chosen because they are leaders in the field and at the forefront of research? Or are publications chosen because they mirror the interests of those on the editorial board?

      References

        • Lifchez A.S.
        • Scommegna A.
        Diffusion of progestogens through Silastic rubber implants.
        Fertil Steril. 1970; 21: 426-430
        • El-Minawi M.F.
        • Moskal P.A.
        • van Pelt L.
        Nomarski interference contrast microscopy of human, monkey, and rabbit spermatozoa.
        Fertil Steril. 1970; 21: 383-389
        • Rowley M.J.
        • Teshima F.
        • Heller C.G.
        Duration of transit of spermatozoa through the human male ductular system.
        Fertil Steril. 1970; 21: 390-396
        • Goldman J.A.
        • Schechter A.
        • Eckerling B.
        Carbohydrate metabolism in infertile and impotent males.
        Fertil Steril. 1970; 21: 397-401