Fathers that are born small program alterations in the next-generation preimplantation rat embryos

Jordanna S Master, George A Thouas, Alexandra J Harvey, John R Sheedy, Natalie J Hannan, David K Gardner, Mary E Wlodek
Journal of Nutrition 2015, 145 (5): 876-83

BACKGROUND: Low birth weight is associated with increased risk of adult cardiovascular and metabolic disease development, with recent studies highlighting transmission to subsequent generations via both maternal and paternal lines. However, the timing of parent-specific programming of disease risk to the next generation remains to be characterized.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to examine how paternal low birth weight affects the cellular and molecular physiology of the next-generation [second-generation (F2)] blastocysts, before uterine implantation.

METHODS: Uteroplacental insufficiency was surgically induced in Wistar Kyoto pregnant rats in late gestation, giving rise to first-generation restricted (born small) and sham-operated control (normal birth weight) male offspring, respectively. First-generation restricted and control male rats were naturally mated with normal females.

RESULTS: Resultant F2 blastocysts derived from restricted males displayed reduced expression of growth regulatory genes of the mammalian target of rapamycin pathway compared with F2 control blastocysts (9-74%; P < 0.05). No differences were found in F2 restricted blastocyst structural characteristics, cell number, or carbohydrate utilization at the time of blastocyst retrieval or after 24 h of in vitro culture. However, histidine, methionine, pyruvate, serine, and tryosine consumption and aspartate and leucine production were greater in F2 restricted outgrowth than in controls (P < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: The findings from this study clearly indicate that male rat offspring born small, arising from uteroplacental insufficiency, have physiologic alterations that manifest as modifications in gene expression levels and nutrient metabolism of F2 blastocysts, even in the absence of overt cellular growth differences. These data demonstrate that growth restriction and associated disease risk have the capacity to be transmitted to the next generation of offspring via the male germ line and is manifest as early as the blastocyst stage of development.

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