Mammalian reproduction is a complex physiological process involving a tightly regulated hypothalamicpituitary- gonadal axis and the integration of a diverse array of molecular signals. Oral contraceptives (OCs) were introduced over 40 years ago and have evolved over the years through the discovery of new estrogens and progestins, the development of progestin-only pills and the reduction of the estrogen content in combined OCs. Despite the developments that improved the safety profile of current OCs, adverse metabolic and vascular effects caused by the estrogen component and possible neoplastic effects of OCs remain and, thus, necessitate efforts to develop newer, possibly non-steroidal and non-hormonal, contraceptives. Recent advances in our understanding of ovarian endocrinology, coupled with molecular biology and transgenic technology, have enabled identification of several factors that are functionally critical in the regulation of female fertility. Progress in the area of female reproduction is showing great promise for identifying new contraceptive drug targets. In this article, the authors review the field of female contraception with emphasis on novel targets involved in reproductive function and identified through genomics and proteomics. In addition, the usefulness of these targets for contraception purposes will be discussed.
Keywords: Contraception, fertility, oocyte, folliculogenesis, genomics, proteomics
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