N-Acetyl Cysteine May Improve Egg Quality

N-Acetyl Cysteine May Improve Egg Quality
N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) is a powerful antioxidant and research suggests that NAC may have a protective effect on egg quality as women age.

NAC treatment has also been linked with improvements in other aspects of female fertility in prior studies; treatment with NAC has been found to increase ovulation in Clomid-resistant women with PCOS and NAC treatment may help to reboot ovulation after ovarian drilling. Other studies have found that NAC may be able to influence miscarriage rates, reducing loss.

A 2012 animal study - published in Human Reproduction - found that NAC may protect the quality of oocytes significantly reducing the signs of oocyte aging.

In this study, one group of mice were fed NAC for two months while another group had a one year long treatment with NAC. When the quality of oocytes (eggs) and embryos were examined, results from the group which were treated for two months 2 demonstrated the following improvements:

"NAC improved the quality of fertilized oocytes and early embryo development."

When mice were treated for a year with a low concentration of NAC they produced larger litters and the quality of oocytes from older mice improved. A number of key markers of oocyte quality demonstrated the following improvements:

"...the expression of sirtuins was increased, telomerase activity was higher and telomere length was longer in the ovaries of mice treated with NAC."

These findings all indicate that NAC may be able to confer significant protection on aging oocytes and this may make NAC a helpful supplement for improving egg quality as women age. The study concluded:

"These data suggest that appropriate treatment with the antioxidant NAC postpones the process of oocyte aging in mice."

The amount of NAC that has been used safely and successfully in human studies is 600 mg twice a day and treatment is regarded as being extremely safe. You should however always ask your physician before embarking upon a new nutritional supplement regime.

Strategies to improve egg quality become a huge concern when trying to conceive over age 35 years and top IVF clinics often recommend antioxidant supplements to help women with poor ovarian reserve to have greater success rates.

A prime causative factor in ovarian aging is thought to be ovarian oxidative stress which occurs when the levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) or free radicals within the ovary are elevated and the levels of antioxidants are insufficient. This can trigger oocyte damage and oxidative stress within the ovary is linked with increased apoptosis (cell death) and telomere shortening.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and is NOT intended to diagnose, offer medical or nutritional treatment or replace medical or nutritional advice for which you should consult a suitably qualified physician or licensed dietitian.

I regularly post extra updates on new fertility research, tips and strategies, along with research on environmental toxins and fertility on my Facebook page


Hum Reprod. 2012 Feb 21. [Epub ahead of print] Delay in oocyte aging in mice by the antioxidant N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC). Liu J, Liu M, Ye X, Liu K, Huang J, Wang L, Ji G, Liu N, Tang X, Baltz JM, Keefe DL, Liu L.

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