the miracle of the hormones

The Messenger in Sperm

The nitric oxide synthase (NOS) enzyme in the sperm begins to produce NO a few seconds before fertilization. When union occurs, the NO messenger molecules in the sperm disperse within the egg. Thirty seconds later, the calcium in the egg is activated and the first cells divide and the multiplying mechanism goes into action.

Another very important function performed on our behalf by this molecule occurs in the first moment of our lives. First, we must notice when we say "the first moment of our lives," we do not mean the moment we were born. The first moment of our lives is the first moment of the one cell that formed us, when the sperm united with the egg.

When the sperm and the egg meet, a number of incredibly complex chemical operations begin, and as a result, an embryo is formed. But, among the many details that are still unknown, there is an important point that can be summarized in the words of Professor David Epel who said, "Since the turn of the century, people have wondered exactly how sperm-egg contact initiates development."81

The research carried out to find the answer to this question has shown that the messenger carried by NO initiates the wonderful process in the mother's womb. Inside the sperm there is an enzyme called Nitric Oxide Synthase (NOS). This enzyme begins to produce NO a few seconds before fertilization with perfect timing. When union occurs, the nitric oxide molecules in the sperm are dispersed within the egg; thirty seconds later, the calcium in the egg is activated and, the multiplication mechanism in the first cell goes into operation. The wonderful organization within this first cell is not yet fully understood. It is interesting for us to notice that, if there were an insufficiency in the nitric oxide molecule, communication between the sperm and the egg would not be established. Science came to understand this fact only in the year 2000; this shows us again that nitric oxide was created by God and appointed by Him to perform its functions.

Face to Face With Bacteria and Viruses

Earlier we mentioned that, although nitric oxide carries vital messages, it is also a poisonous molecule. So, the role of NO in the immune system is related to its poisonous qualities. This molecule is secreted by macrophages, which are important in the body's immune system. Recall that macrophages are microorganisms 0.01 of a millimeter in size. By a process called phagocytosis, they remove (swallow) bacteria and molecules, which are dangerous for our bodies. When a macrophage meets germs or bacteria that cause sickness, it surrounds them; afterwards, the bacteria that are embraced on every side by the macrophages are subjected to a bombardment of nitric oxide. In this way, nitric oxide molecules start a reaction to destroy the bacteria. Certainly, the cooperation between nitric oxide and macrophages is one of the countless proofs of the harmonious creation.

When parasites and bacteria are in their division (multiplying) stages they form a relationship with macrophages, ensuring that they produce NOs. (a) This enzyme produces nitric oxide from oxygen and argine, which adheres to its own iron atom. The NO that is produced blocks the multiplication of parasites. (b)

The NO molecules have another interesting role in the immune system. Research has shown that NO renders the "protease" enzyme found in some viruses ineffective. This enzyme breaks down big proteins into small parts that are used in the production of new viruses. NO puts this enzyme out of operation, preventing the virus from multiplying.

Tiny molecules find other molecules in a body that they have never before encountered and know very well how to neutralize their effects. In this way, people can be rescued from great dangers that they were not even aware of. It is very clear that all this order and connection among molecules cannot be the result of chance. God, the Lord of the universe, has given the NO molecules their function and created them with their special qualities.

Research in this field continues, and it is thought that, in the near future, scientists will be able to use nitric oxide in the fight against cancer. Each new bit of information that comes to light will show once again that this molecule is a product of extraordinary design.

Every day, the nitric oxide molecule is subject of new research, and the results of this research amaze even scientists. What is known at this point is that this messenger molecule is produced in various cells throughout our whole body, and that it has important functions in many bodily operations. In order to understand how utterly astonishing the activities of this molecule are, put yourself for a moment in the place of NO and imagine that you are undertaking its duties.

1. First, imagine that you must take over the role of this molecule in adjusting the blood vessels. In order to do this successfully, you must first know the circulatory system and its components-heart, blood and blood vessels-very well.

2. In the course of various daily activities such as sleeping, eating and playing sports, you will need to communicate messages about the adjustment of blood pressure to the relevant organs. In doing this, you cannot overlook anything or make the slightest error. Otherwise, the blood pressure would fall lower or rise higher than normal, opening the way for a stroke, shock, heart attack and other conditions that could result in death. Moreover, remember that the veins, arteries, and capillaries in our bodies have a total length of more than 100 thousand kilometers. Given this, you can safely guess that you could not possibly perform this duty.

3. It is known that NO is used as a messenger in our brain during the process of learning. These operations are so complex that a large part of them is still not understood. Therefore, the concerted efforts of the whole scientific world could not possibly accomplish this messenger function, let alone you, a single individual.

4. Do not forget the part played by nitric oxide in the successful fight by the immune system against viruses and bacteria.

5. Moreover, in this section we have not touched on the role of the messenger in the functioning of the lungs, liver, kidneys, stomach and the reproductive system. When you take the place of NO in a human body, you must understand the language of all these organs; you must be an expert in them all. Of course, this is not enough because there is nothing that can be compared to the human body with all its organs working in harmony and all its trillions of cells performing incredibly complex functions.

6. Finally, you must keep in mind that, if this messenger is not used in the right proportion, with the right timing and in just the right place, harmful and dangerous results could occur. This could be compared to a person who has done very complicated processes with dynamite or some other explosive substance every moment for 60-70 years and who has not miscalculated by even one second in the complex operations he has performed.

No matter how much of an expert you are, you must confess that you would not be able to do what this molecule does, even with the help of the most advanced computers and laboratories.

Certainly, the nitric oxide messenger molecule has been created by God Who has "created everything and determined it most exactly…" (Qur'an, 25: 2) Although this molecule has no sense organs, intelligence, consciousness, education or technical training, the fact that it can regulate the operations of cells, make and carry out on its own initiative delicate and necessary decisions relative to the human body, comes from God's superior and incomparable design.

All this information has been obtained during the last decade of the twentieth century as a result of intense research by scientists who are considered authorities in this field. Certainly, all the things unknown about NO cannot be brought to light just by the work of individual researchers; there are other factors that must be considered. States and international foundations have spent enormous amounts of money on scientific work in this field and have established laboratories with tools that are the product of the latest technology.

Certainly, the fact that the wonders of creation contained in this messenger molecule have been discovered only after so much work and effort is another demonstration of the superior knowledge of God.

81 D. Epel, "Scientists discover key ingredient in sexual reproduction," Stanford University News Service, 2000, report/ news/august9/sperm-89.html.