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

Adam J. Watkins, Kevin D. Sinclair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)H1444-H1452
Number of pages9
JournalAJP Heart and Circulatory physiology
Issue number10
Early online date21 Mar 2014
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2014


  • adult offspring health
  • cardiovascular dysfunction
  • developmental programming
  • metabolic homeostasis
  • paternal diet


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