Folate treatment of pregnant rat dams abolishes metabolic effects in female offspring induced by a paternal pre-conception unhealthy diet.

Research paper by Jian J Li, Yong-Ping YP Lu, Oleg O Tsuprykov, Ahmed A AA Hasan, Christoph C Reichetzeder, Mei M Tian, Xiao Li XL Zhang, Qin Q Zhang, Guo-Ying GY Sun, Jingli J Guo, Mohamed M S MMS Gaballa, Xiao-Ning XN Peng, Ge G Lin, Berthold B Hocher

Indexed on: 20 May '18Published on: 20 May '18Published in: Diabetologia


Paternal high-fat diet prior to mating programmes impaired glucose tolerance in female offspring. We examined whether the metabolic consequences in offspring could be abolished by folate treatment of either the male rats before mating or the corresponding female rats during pregnancy. Male F0 rats were fed either control diet or high-fat, high-sucrose and high-salt diet (HFSSD), with or without folate, before mating. Male rats were mated with control-diet-fed dams. After mating, the F0 dams were fed control diet with or without folate during pregnancy. Male, but not female offspring of HFSSD-fed founders were heavier than those of control-diet-fed counterparts (p < 0.05 and p = 0.066 in males and females, respectively). Both male and female offspring of HFSSD-fed founders were longer compared with control (p < 0.01 for both sexes). Folate treatment of the pregnant dams abolished the effect of the paternal diet on the offspring's body length (p ˂ 0.05). Female offspring of HFSSD-fed founders developed impaired glucose tolerance, which was restored by folate treatment of the dams during pregnancy. The beta cell density per pancreatic islet was decreased in offspring of HFSSD-fed rats (-20% in male and -15% in female F1 offspring, p ˂ 0.001 vs controls). Folate treatment significantly increased the beta cell density (4.3% and 3.3% after folate supplementation given to dams and founders, respectively, p ˂ 0.05 vs the offspring of HFSSD-fed male rats). Changes in liver connective tissue of female offspring of HFSSD-fed founders were ameliorated by treatment of dams with folate (p ˂ 0.01). Hepatic Ppara gene expression was upregulated in female offspring only (1.51-fold, p ˂ 0.05) and was restored in the female offspring by folate treatment (p ˂ 0.05). We observed an increase in hepatic Lcn2 and Tmcc2 expression in female offspring born to male rats exposed to an unhealthy diet during spermatogenesis before mating (p ˂ 0.05 vs controls). Folate treatment of the corresponding dams during pregnancy abolished this effect (p ˂ 0.05). Analysis of DNA methylation levels of CpG islands in the Ppara, Lcn2 and Tmcc2 promoter regions revealed that the paternal unhealthy diet induced alterations in the methylation pattern. These patterns were also affected by folate treatment. Total liver DNA methylation was increased by 1.52-fold in female offspring born to male rats on an unhealthy diet prior to mating (p ˂ 0.05). This effect was abolished by folate treatment during pregnancy (p ˂ 0.05 vs the offspring of HFSSD-fed male rats). Folate treatment of pregnant dams restores effects on female offspring's glucose metabolism induced by pre-conception male founder HFSSD.