Genome-wide sperm DNA methylation changes after 3 months of exercise training in humans

Epigenomics. 2015 Aug;7(5):717-31. doi: 10.2217/epi.15.29. Epub 2015 Apr 13.


Aim: DNA methylation programs gene expression and is involved in numerous biological processes. Accumulating evidence supports transgenerational inheritance of DNA methylation changes in mammals via germ cells. Our aim was to determine the effect of exercise on sperm DNA methylation.

Materials & methods: Twenty-four men were recruited and assigned to an exercise intervention or control group. Clinical parameters were measured and sperm samples were donated by subjects before and after the 3-month time-period. Mature sperm global and genome-wide DNA methylation was assessed using an ELISA assay and the 450K BeadChip (Illumina).

Results: Global and genome-wide sperm DNA methylation was altered after 3 months of exercise training. DNA methylation changes occurred in genes related to numerous diseases such as schizophrenia and Parkinson's disease.

Conclusions: Our study provides the first evidence showing exercise training reprograms the sperm methylome. Whether these DNA methylation changes are inherited to future generations warrants attention.

Keywords: disease risk; epigenetics; sperm; transgenerational inheritance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cluster Analysis
  • CpG Islands / genetics
  • DNA Methylation*
  • Epigenomics / methods*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Genome, Human / genetics*
  • Genomic Imprinting / genetics
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Spermatozoa / metabolism*
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult