Epigenetics and the Mitochondria – Importance and Support of Mitochondria in the Context of Fertility

Kali MacIsaac ND, HBSc
Lecture Type: 
Breakout Session
Lecture Day: 
Day 2
Fletcher Challenge Theatre

Epigenetics is defined as heritable changes in gene function that do not involve a change to the genome; it describes the strong impact of the environment on genetic function. While the role of epigenetics has been predominately thought of in terms of genomic DNA, a clear role for mitochondria in modulation of epigenetic changes is emerging. New research suggests that mitochondrial function plays a major role in the expression or suppression of genetic material throughout the human body by providing substrates for genetic alteration, as well as via the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). There is now considered to be a reciprocal relationship between epigenetics and mitochondrial function – they impact one another.

This emerging evidence, in the context of fertility, encourages a focus on supporting mitochondrial function and energy production to improve oocyte and spermatocyte quality and the likelihood of healthy conception and pregnancy. A novel IVF procedure, AUGMENT IVF, is gaining popularity for its effectiveness in improving embryo quality and boosting IVF success by adding active mitochondria to the oocyte at the time of fertilization. This procedure will be discussed alongside natural interventions to improve and preserve existing mitochondrial function.

Improvement of mitochondrial function will be addressed via a four-part strategy: provide essential nutrients, protect from oxidative damage, reduce exposure to damaging factors, and boost glutathione to enhance detoxification processes. One of the most common nutrients for support of mitochondrial function, Coenzyme Q10, will be discussed for its physiological role in improving oocyte and spermatocyte quality as well as a comparison of ubiquinol versus ubiquinone forms. L-carnitine, R-alpha lipoic acid, pyrroquinoline quinone, dietary and lifestyle factors, and other mitochondrial supplementation strategies will also be discussed.  

This seminar is designed to provide theoretical research, practical applications and clinical pearls integrating nutrition, lifestyle, exercise, supplementation and IV therapies, with the goal of easily implementing these protocols into daily practice. Participants will leave with a greater understanding of the role of mitochondrial function in fertility success, and suggested treatment protocols that enhance this function in male and female fertility patients.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the role of mitochondria in epigenetics, and the importance of this reciprocal relationship in the context of fertility.  
  • Learn the benefits of supporting mitochondrial function in male and female fertility patients. Then, learn the importance of a pro-active approach to support mitochondrial function through diet, lifestyle and supplementation, as well as understand the novel IVF procedure, AUGMENT IVF.
  • Take home effective protocols and prescriptions combining nutrition, lifestyle changes, and neutraceutical supplementation to enhance mitochondrial function in oocyte and spermatocyte cells for female and male fertility patients


Kali MacIsaac ND, HBSc
Vancouver, Canada

Dr. Kali MacIsaac is the naturopathic physician providing functional medicine testing and integrative care at Acubalance Wellness Centre in Vancouver BC.


Kali is a registered Naturopathic Doctor (ND) with the College of Naturopathic Physicians of British Columbia.  She is a member of the BC Naturopathic Association (BCNA) and the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors (CAND).  Prior to medical school, Kali earned an Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Science from the University of Waterloo where her passion for healthcare developed.  Following this, she attended the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM) in Toronto, Ontario, for a 4-year accredited naturopathic medicine program.  


Dr. MacIsaac works as a general practitioner, and has special interest in digestive health, reproduction and fertility, endocrinology and hormonal balance.  She has completed the full curriculum of Biological Medicine certification with the Paracelsus Klinik Lustmuhle, as instructed by Dr. Thomas Rau MD, as well as a full curriculum in microscope technology from BiomedX.  She believes in the power of an empowered patient, and develops individual treatment protocols to inspire patients to take an active role in their health.


Dr. MacIsaac is also actively involved in educating the public about health and naturopathic medicine through speaking engagements and media appearances.


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Symposium Location

Simon Fraser University at Harbour Centre
515 West Hastings Street
Vancouver, BC