A majority of the cases of primary male infertility are idiopathic with the underlying molecular mechanisms contributing to the pathophysiology as yet unknown. Effects of the environment can alter the sperm epigenome thereby impacting male reproductive health. Epigenetic mechanisms are crucial to understanding health and disease, and methylome alterations are now known to have far-reaching clinical implications. Here, we report the results from our pilot study, a first of its kind analysis of the effect of the traditional practice of yoga on human sperm quality. We find marked improvement in sperm characteristics in patients of idiopathic male infertility following a supervised 21-day yoga regimen. Furthermore, next-generation sequencing-based methylome analysis reveals alterations in the sperm epigenome of these patients. We find that the practice of yoga is associated with DNA methylation changes at nearly 400 genes, 147 of which were hypermethylated while 229 were hypomethylated. These included promoters of several genes linked to maintenance of fertility and genomic integrity. This novel piece of work draws a direct link between positive lifestyle practices and male reproductive health.
Keywords: RRBS; male infertility; methylome; sperm quality; yoga.
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