The cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator in reproductive health and disease

J Physiol. 2009 May 15;587(Pt 10):2187-95. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2008.164970. Epub 2008 Nov 17.


The cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) is an anion channel regulated by cAMP-dependent phosphorylation, which is expressed in epithelial cells of a wide variety of tissues including the reproductive tracts. Mutations in the gene encoding CFTR cause cystic fibrosis, a common genetic disease in Caucasian populations with a multitude of clinical manifestations including infertility/subfertility in both sexes. However, the physiological role of CFTR in reproduction and its involvement in the pathogenesis of reproductive diseases remain largely unknown. This review discusses the role of CFTR in regulating fluid volume and bicarbonate secretion in the reproductive tracts and their importance in various reproductive events. We also discuss the contribution of CFTR dysfunction to a number of pathological conditions. The evidence presented is consistent with an important role of CFTR in reproductive health and disease, suggesting that CFTR might be a potential target for the diagnosis and treatment of reproductive diseases including infertility.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator / physiology*
  • Embryo Implantation / physiology
  • Female
  • Genital Diseases, Female / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Reproduction / physiology*
  • Sperm Capacitation / physiology
  • Sperm Transport / physiology


  • Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator