Emerging evidence suggests that paternal obesity plays an important role in offspring health. Our previous work using a rodent model of diet-induced paternal obesity showed that female offspring from high-fat diet (HFD)-fed fathers develop glucose intolerance due to impairment of pancreatic insulin secretion. Here, we focused on the health outcomes of male offspring from HFD-fed fathers. Male Sprague-Dawley rats (3 wk old) were fed control (CD-F0) or HFD (HFD-F0) for 12 wk before mating with control-fed females. Male offspring were fed control diets for up to 8 wk or 6 mo. Although male offspring from HFD-F0 did not develop any obvious glucose metabolism defects in this study, surprisingly, a growth deficit phenotype was observed from birth to 6 mo of age. Male offspring from HFD-F0 had reduced birth weight compared with CD-F0, followed by reduced postweaning growth from 9 wk of age. This resulted in 10% reduction in body weight at 6 mo with significantly smaller fat pads and skeletal muscles. Reduced circulating levels of growth hormone (GH) and IGF-I were detected at 8 wk and 6 mo, respectively. Expression of adipogenesis markers was decreased in adipose tissue of HFD-F0 offspring at 8 wk and 6 mo, and expression of growth markers was decreased in muscle of HFD-F0 offspring at 8 wk. We propose that the reduced GH secretion at 8 wk of age altered the growth of male offspring from HFD-F0, resulting in smaller animals from 9 wk to 6 mo of age. Furthermore, increased muscle triglyceride content and expression of lipogenic genes were observed in HFD-F0 offspring, potentially increasing their metabolic risk.
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