Effects of a Paternal Diet High in Animal Protein versus Plant Protein on Offspring Metabolic and Microbial Outcomes in a Rodent Model

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Obesity and type 2 diabetes are influenced by genetic and environmental factors, including diet. In addition to the well-known influence of maternal nutrition on offspring health, paternal diet has also been shown recently to program lifelong disease risk in their offspring. For instance, a paternal diet high in casein protein demonstrated numerous protective effects for their offspring including reduced body fat percentage, enhanced insulin sensitivity and higher satiety hormone levels compared to paternal high fat or control diets. Based on mounting evidence of this paternal influence, as well as dietary guidance to consume more plant products, the objective of this thesis was to examine the effects of animal versus plant protein on paternal and offspring health. Five-week-old male Sprague Dawley rats (n=36) were randomized into three dietary intervention groups for 8-11 weeks: 1) control AIN-93; 2) high animal casein protein (AP); and 3) high plant pea protein (PP). They were then mated. Offspring were challenged with a high fat/sucrose diet (HFD) from 10-16 weeks of age. Metabolic and microbial outcomes assessed in the fathers and offspring included body composition (DXA), glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity (OGTT and ITT, respectively), gut microbial composition (16S rRNA sequencing), and gene expression (RT-PCR). The PP diet directly altered paternal hepatic microRNA expression and gut microbial profiles fostering improved metabolic functioning including enhanced insulin sensitivity and improved lipid metabolism and intestinal integrity depicted in decreased hepatic triglyceride and serum LPS levels, respectively. In contrast, adult offspring from fathers fed the AP diet exhibited increased adiposity, altered lipid metabolism, and dysregulated satiety hormones that were accompanied by altered miRNA expression and modified gut microbiota following 6-week exposure to a HFD. Overall, a paternal diet high in pea protein had numerous beneficial effects on the fathers’ metabolism and gut microbiota but had minimal effects on their offspring. Whereas a paternal diet high in animal protein during the preconception period had minimal effects on the fathers but programmed an increased predisposition to metabolic dysfunction in their adult offspring when unmasked by HFD exposure.
Metabolism, Paternal Programming
Patterson, R. (2023). Effects of a paternal diet high in animal protein versus plant protein on offspring metabolic and microbial outcomes in a rodent model (Master's thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from https://prism.ucalgary.ca.