Sperm DNA methylation changes after short-term nut supplementation in healthy men consuming a Western-style diet

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Background: Many environmental and lifestyle factors have been implicated in the decline of sperm quality, with diet being one of the most plausible factors identified in recent years. Moreover, several studies have reported a close association between the alteration of specific sperm DNA methylation signatures and semen quality. Objectives: To evaluate the effect of tree nut consumption on sperm DNA methylation patterns in healthy individuals reporting eating a Western-style diet. Material and methods: This is a post hoc analysis conducted in a subset of participants (healthy, non-smoking, and young) from the FERTINUTS 14-wk randomized-controlled, parallel trial, recruited between December 2015 and February 2017. The participants included in the current study (n = 72) were randomly selected in a proportion 2:1 from the original FERTINUTS trial between the 98 participants that completed the entire dietary intervention (nut group, n = 48; control group, n = 24). Sperm DNA methylation patterns were examined at baseline and after 14 weeks in 48 individuals consuming 60 g/d of mixed nuts (nut group) and in 24 individuals following the usual Western-style diet avoiding consumption of nuts (control group). Results: Over the course of the trial, no significant changes in global methylation were observed between groups. However, in the nut group, we identified 36 genomic regions that were significantly differentially methylated between the baseline and the end of the trial and 97.2% of the regions displayed hypermethylation. We identified no such change in the control group over the same period of time. We also utilized the recently developed germ line age calculator to determine if nut consumption resulted in alterations to the epigenetic age of cells and no significant differences were found. Discussion and conclusion: Adding nuts to a regular Western-style diet subtly impacts sperm DNA methylation in specific regions, demonstrating that there are some sperm epigenome regions that could respond to diet.




Salas-Huetos, A., James, E. R., Salas-Salvadó, J., Bulló, M., Aston, K. I., Carrell, D. T., & Jenkins, T. G. (2021). Sperm DNA methylation changes after short-term nut supplementation in healthy men consuming a Western-style diet. Andrology, 9(1), 260–268. https://doi.org/10.1111/andr.12911

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