Maternal and paternal exercise have different effects on metabolic health in offspring, according to a new study in mice.
Maternal exercise during pregnancy improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity in the offspring, while paternal exercise had no effect on these measures. However, both maternal and paternal exercise increased triglyceride levels in the offspring.
“Our findings suggest that maternal exercise during pregnancy has different effects on measures of metabolic health in offspring than paternal exercise, which has important implications for the role of exercise in the prevention of obesity and type 2 diabetes,” said lead author Kathleen Yokum, PhD, of the University of Virginia School of Medicine.
Previous studies have shown that maternal obesity and diabetes are associated with an increased risk of obesity and diabetes in the offspring. Exercise is known to be beneficial for metabolic health, but it is not clear if this benefit is passed on to the offspring.
To investigate the effects of maternal and paternal exercise on offspring metabolic health, the researchers divided mice into four groups: sedentary (no exercise), maternal exercise, paternal exercise, and maternal and paternal exercise. The mice were mated and the mothers were given access to a running wheel during pregnancy. The fathers were given access to a running wheel either during pregnancy (paternal exercise group) or after pregnancy (maternal and paternal exercise group).
The offspring were born and raised in a standard cage. At 8 weeks of age, the offspring were given a glucose tolerance test and their insulin levels were measured. The researchers also measured the levels of triglycerides, total cholesterol, and HDL (“good”) cholesterol in the offspring.
The maternal exercise group had better glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity than the sedentary group, while the paternal exercise group did not differ from the sedentary group on these measures. The maternal and paternal exercise group had similar glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity to the maternal exercise group.
“Our findings suggest that maternal exercise leads to improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity in offspring, and that paternal exercise has no effect on these measures,” said Yokum.
However, both maternal and paternal exercise led to increased triglyceride levels in the offspring. “This is an important finding, as elevated triglyceride levels are a risk factor for obesity and type 2 diabetes,” said Yokum.
“Our study sheds new light on the effects of maternal and paternal exercise on offspring metabolic health,” said Yokum. “These findings have important implications for the role of exercise in the prevention of obesity and type 2 diabetes.”
Maternal and paternal exercise in mice affects metabolic health in offspring, according to a new study. The study, which is published in the journal Cell Metabolism, found that when either the mother or the father exercised, their offspring had better metabolic health, including improved glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity, and fat metabolism.
“We know that obesity and diabetes are passed down from generation to generation, and that lifestyle choices play a role in these diseases,” says lead author Jaclyn M. Henderson, PhD, of the University of Michigan. “Our study shows that paternal and maternal exercise can have a lasting impact on the health of their offspring.”
To arrive at their findings, the authors put male and female mice on a treadmill for six weeks before mating them. The offspring of these mice were then also put on a treadmill for six weeks. The authors found that the offspring of the exercisers had better glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity than the offspring of the nonexercisers.
“This is the first study to show that paternal and maternal exercise have different and independent effects on the metabolism of their offspring,” says senior author Richard T. Leiter, PhD, also of the University of Michigan. “Our findings suggest that paternal and maternal exercise may be a potential strategy to help prevent or treat obesity and diabetes in future generations.”