Paternal low protein diet affects adult offspring cardiovascular and metabolic function in mice

Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2014 May 15;306(10):H1444-52. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00981.2013. Epub 2014 Mar 21.


Although the association between maternal periconceptional diet and adult offspring health is well characterised, our understanding of the impact of paternal nutrition at the time of conception on offspring phenotype remains poorly defined. Therefore, we determined the effect of a paternal preconception low protein diet (LPD) on adult offspring cardiovascular and metabolic health in mice. Male C57BL/6 mice were fed either normal protein diet (NPD; 18% casein) or LPD (9% casein) for 7 wk before mating. At birth, a reduced male-to-female ratio (P = 0.03) and increased male offspring weight (P = 0.009) were observed in litters from LPD compared with NPD stud males with no differences in mean litter size. LPD offspring were heavier than NPD offspring at 2 and 3 wk of age (P < 0.02). However, no subsequent differences in body weight were observed. Adult male offspring derived from LPD studs developed relative hypotension (decreased by 9.2 mmHg) and elevated heart rate (P < 0.05), whereas both male and female offspring displayed vascular dysfunction and impaired glucose tolerance relative to NPD offspring. At cull (24 wk), LPD males had elevated adiposity (P = 0.04), reduced heart-to-body weight ratio (P = 0.04), and elevated circulating TNF-α levels (P = 0.015) compared with NPD males. Transcript expression in offspring heart and liver tissue was reduced for genes involved in calcium signaling (Adcy, Plcb, Prkcb) and metabolism (Fto) in LPD offspring (P < 0.03). These novel data reveal the impact of suboptimal paternal nutrition on adult offspring cardiovascular and metabolic homeostasis, and provide some insight into the underlying regulatory mechanisms.

Keywords: adult offspring health; cardiovascular dysfunction; developmental programming; metabolic homeostasis; paternal diet.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiovascular Physiological Phenomena*
  • Child of Impaired Parents*
  • Diet, Protein-Restricted / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Glucose Intolerance / epidemiology
  • Hypotension / epidemiology
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Malnutrition / complications*
  • Metabolism / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Models, Animal
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / physiology
  • Sex Factors*
  • Sex Ratio