DNA Fragmentation

DNA Fragmentation

DNA fragmentation is the separation of DNA into strands.  High DNA fragmentation can be a cause for male factor infertility that isn’t always examined.

What causes DNA Fragmentation?

There are a number of possible causes of DNA damage:

  1. Oxidative stress – oxidation is known to cause DNA damage. Antioxidants may help counter oxidation.  Some studies have demonstrated a benefit in supplementing certain antioxidants in men with male factor infertility such as vitamin E, coenzyme Q10, zinc and selenium.
  2. Seasonal variation – One study demonstrated a higher DNA fragmentation index in semen samples collected in the winter, versus those collected in the spring.
  3. Genetic mutations – genetic defects in the genes that code for DNA repair.  XRCC1, XPD6 and XPD23 are the genes that regulate DNA repair.  Significant associations have been found between polymorphisms of these genes and higher DNA fragmentation index (DFI).
  4. Varicocele – a varicose vein in the testicles can cause a high DFI.  Surgical varicocele repair can help improve DFI.

How can naturopathic medicine help improve DNA Fragmentation?

  1. Use of select antioxidants at the correct dose and frequency can help improve DFI.
  2. The herb Uncaria tomentosa as a water extract has been shown to enhance the function of the genes that code for DNA repair.
  3. Probiotics – one study found that probiotic supplementation could help reduce DNA fragmentation in rats.


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