Epigenetic Inheritance of Benefits Resulting from Parental Physical Fitness

Evolution has produced a system in which the epigenetics of offspring are adapted to the environment experienced by the parents, an effect presumably selected to produce greater fitness, in the same way as improved health in response to lower calorie intake is selected to produce greater fitness. Physically active parents produce an altered epigenetic landscape in offspring in comparison to those with worse health. This has been demonstrated in a number of species, with the research in mice noted here as one of many examples. Similar effects on the epigenetics of offspring no doubt exist in humans as well, but would be challenging to disentangle from the consequences of cultural transmission of lifestyle choices.

This study used mice to evaluate how their lifestyles – eating fatty foods vs. healthy and exercising vs. not – affected the metabolites of their offspring. Metabolites are substances made or used when the body breaks down food, drugs or chemicals, or its own fat or muscle tissue. “We have previously shown that maternal and paternal exercise improve health of offspring. Tissue and serum metabolites play a fundamental role in the health of an organism, but how parental exercise affects offspring tissue and serum metabolites has not yet been investigated.”

Researchers used targeted metabolomics – the study of metabolites – to determine the impact of maternal exercise, paternal exercise, and the combination of maternal and paternal exercise on the metabolite profile in offspring liver, skeletal muscle, and blood serum levels. This study found that all forms of parental exercise improved whole-body glucose metabolism in offspring as adults, and metabolomics profiling of offspring serum, muscle, and liver reveal that parental exercise results in extensive effects across all classes of metabolites in all of these offspring tissues.

Link: https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/968791

This content was originally published here.

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