‘When fa­thers ex­er­cise, chil­dren are health­ier, even as adults’

Sunday Trust - - NEWS | HEALTH -

Men who want to have chil­dren in the near fu­ture should con­sider hit­ting the gym. In a new study led by Kristin Stan­ford, a phys­i­ol­ogy and cell bi­ol­ogy re­searcher with The Ohio State Univer­sity Col­lege of Medicine at the Wexner Med­i­cal Cen­ter, says pa­ter­nal ex­er­cise had a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on the meta­bolic health of off­spring well into their adult­hood.

Lau­rie Goodyear of the Joslin Di­a­betes Cen­ter and Har­vard Med­i­cal School co-led the study, pub­lished to­day in the jour­nal Di­a­betes.

“This work is an im­por­tant step in learn­ing about meta­bolic dis­ease and preven­tion at the cel­lu­lar level,” said Dr. K. Craig Kent, dean of the Ohio State Col­lege of Medicine.

Re­cent stud­ies have linked de­vel­op­ment of type 2 di­a­betes and im­paired meta­bolic health to the par­ents’ poor diet, and there is increasing ev­i­dence that fa­thers play an im­por­tant role in obe­sity and meta­bolic pro­gram­ming of their off­spring.

Stan­ford is a mem­ber of Ohio State’s Di­a­betes and Me­tab­o­lism Re­search Cen­ter. Her team in­ves­ti­gated how a fa­ther’s ex­er­cise reg­i­men would af­fect his off­spring’s meta­bolic health. Us­ing a mouse model, they fed male mice ei­ther a nor­mal diet or a high-fat diet for three weeks. Some mice from each diet group were seden­tary and some ex­er­cised freely. Af­ter three weeks, the mice bred and their off­spring ate a nor­mal diet un­der seden­tary con­di­tions for a year.

The re­searchers re­port that adult off­spring from sires who ex­er­cised had im­proved glu­cose me­tab­o­lism, de­creased body weight and a de­creased fat mass.

“Here’s what’s re­ally in­ter­est­ing; off­spring from the dads fed a high-fat diet fared worse, so they were more glu­cose in­tol­er­ant. But ex­er­cise negated that ef­fect,” Stan­ford said. “When the dad ex­er­cised, even on a high-fat diet, we saw im­proved meta­bolic health in their adult off­spring.”

Stan­ford’s team also found that ex­er­cise caused changes in the ge­netic ex­pres­sion of the fa­ther’s sperm that sup­press poor di­etary ef­fects and trans­fer to the off­spring.

“We saw a strong change in their small-RNA pro­file. Now we want to see ex­actly which smal­l­RNAs are re­spon­si­ble for th­ese meta­bolic im­prove­ments, where it’s hap­pen­ing in the off­spring and why,” Stan­ford said.

Pre­vi­ous stud­ies from this group have shown that when mouse moth­ers ex­er­cise, their off­spring also have ben­e­fi­cial ef­fects of me­tab­o­lism.

“Based on both stud­ies, we’re now de­ter­min­ing if both par­ents ex­er­cis­ing has even greater ef­fects to im­prove me­tab­o­lism and over­all health of off­spring. If trans­lated to hu­mans, this would be hugely im­por­tant for the health of the next gen­er­a­tion,” Goodyear said.

The re­searchers be­lieve the re­sults sup­port the hy­poth­e­sis that small RNAs could help trans­mit parental en­vi­ron­men­tal in­for­ma­tion to the next gen­er­a­tion.

“There’s po­ten­tial for this to trans­late to hu­mans. We know that in adult men obe­sity im­pairs testos­terone lev­els, sperm num­ber and motil­ity, and it de­creases the num­ber of live births,” Stan­ford said. “If we ask some­one who’s get­ting ready to have a child to ex­er­cise mod­er­ately, even for a month be­fore con­cep­tion, that could have a strong ef­fect on the health of their sperm and the longterm meta­bolic health of their chil­dren.”

Other Ohio State re­searchers in­volved in the study were Lisa Baer, Adam Lehnig and Joseph White.


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