OBJECTIVE: Poor maternal and paternal environments increase the risk for obesity and diabetes in offspring, whereas maternal and paternal exercise in mice can improve offspring metabolic health. We determined the effects of combined maternal and paternal exercise on offspring health and the effects of parental exercise on offspring pancreas phenotype, a major tissue regulating glucose homeostasis.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: Breeders were high fat fed and housed±running wheels before breeding (males) and before and during gestation (females). Offspring groups were: both parents sedentary (Sed); maternal exercise only (Mat Ex); paternal exercise only (Pat Ex); and maternal+paternal exercise (Mat+Pat Ex). Offspring were sedentary, chow fed, and studied at weaning, 12, 20 and 52 weeks.
RESULTS: While there was no effect of parental exercise on glucose tolerance at younger ages, at 52 weeks, offspring of Mat Ex, Pat Ex and Mat+Pat Ex displayed lower glycemia and improved glucose tolerance. The greatest effects were in offspring from parents that both exercised (Mat+Pat Ex). Offspring from Mat Ex, Pat Ex, and Mat+Pat Ex had decreased beta cell size, whereas islet size and beta cell mass only decreased in Mat+Pat Ex offspring.
CONCLUSIONS: Maternal and paternal exercise have additive effects to improve glucose tolerance in offspring as they age, accompanied by changes in the offspring endocrine pancreas. These findings have important implications for the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes.