Mother's exercise during pregnancy programmes vasomotor function in adult offspring

Exp Physiol. 2014 Jan;99(1):205-19. doi: 10.1113/expphysiol.2013.075978. Epub 2013 Oct 25.


The intrauterine environment is influenced by maternal behaviour and programmes atherosclerotic disease susceptibility in offspring. The aim of this investigation was to test the hypothesis that mothers' exercise during pregnancy improves endothelial function in 3-, 5- and 9-month-old porcine offspring. The pregnant sows in the exercise group ran for an average of 39.35 ± 0.75 min at 4.81 ± 0.35 km h(-1) each day for 5 days per week for all but the last week of gestation. This induced a significant reduction in resting heart rate (exercised group, 89.3 ± 3.5 beats min(-1); sedentary group, 102.1 ± 3.1 beats min(-1); P < 0.05) but no significant differences in gestational weight gain (65.8 ± 2.1 versus 63.3 ± 1.9%). No significant effect on bradykinin-induced vasorelaxation with and without l-NAME was observed. A significant main effect was identified on sodium nitroprusside-induced vasorelaxation (P = 0.01), manifested by a reduced response in femoral arteries of all age groups from exercised-trained swine. Nitric oxide signalling was not affected by maternal exercise. Protein expression of MYPT1 was reduced in femoral arteries from 3-month-old offspring of exercised animals. A significant interaction was observed for PPP1R14A (P < 0.05) transcript abundance and its protein product CPI-17. In conclusion, pregnant swine are able to complete an exercise-training protocol that matches the current recommendations for pregnant women. Gestational exercise is a potent stimulus for programming vascular smooth muscle relaxation in adult offspring. Specifically, exercise training for the finite duration of pregnancy decreases vascular smooth muscle responsiveness in adult offspring to an exogenous nitric oxide donor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiology
  • Female
  • Femoral Artery / metabolism
  • Femoral Artery / physiology
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Mothers
  • Muscle Relaxation / physiology
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / metabolism
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / physiology*
  • Myosin-Light-Chain Phosphatase / metabolism
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism
  • Nitric Oxide Donors / metabolism
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal / physiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Swine
  • Vasodilation / physiology
  • Vasomotor System / metabolism
  • Vasomotor System / physiology*


  • Nitric Oxide Donors
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Myosin-Light-Chain Phosphatase