Paternal Obesity and Programming of Offspring Health

  • Tod FullstonEmail author
  • Helana S. Shehadeh
  • John E. Schjenken
  • Nicole O. McPherson
  • Sarah A. Robertson
  • Deirdre Zander-Fox
  • Michelle Lane
Part of the Physiology in Health and Disease book series (PIHD)


The physical and nutritional environment experienced by the mother prior to and during conception is imperative to the outcome of pregnancy and offspring health. In addition, there is now mounting evidence that paternal exposures and conditions at the time of conception are also an important determinant of pregnancy outcome and offspring health. Specifically, male obesity is now demonstrated to have detrimental impacts on fertility and fetal development during subsequent pregnancy and can exert programming effects on the phenotype of offspring lasting up to two generations. We summarise the evidence of the effect of environmental exposures on seminal plasma and sperm, focusing on the effects of obesity, and what bearing this has for offspring both in humans and animal models. The current knowledge of what might form the molecular basis of the phenomena of paternal programming of offspring health is also reviewed with consideration given to signals from both seminal plasma and sperm.


Paternal non-genetic transmission Epigenetics Sperm Seminal fluid Programming Obesity Environmental exposure Spermatogenesis 



Reactive oxygen species


8-hydroxy-2′-deoxyguanosine (oxidatively damaged Guanosine base)




Hydroxymethyl-Cytosine (oxidised form of 5mC)


NAPDH oxidase


8-Oxoguanine glycosylase (enzyme)


Body mass index


Seminal vesicle deficient (mouse model)


Small non-coding RNA


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Copyright information

© The American Physiological Society 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tod Fullston
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Helana S. Shehadeh
    • 1
  • John E. Schjenken
    • 1
  • Nicole O. McPherson
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sarah A. Robertson
    • 1
  • Deirdre Zander-Fox
    • 1
    • 3
  • Michelle Lane
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Discipline of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Paediatrics and Reproductive Health, School of Medicine, Robinson Research InstituteUniversity of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men’s HealthThe University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  3. 3.RepromedDulwichAustralia
  4. 4.Monash IVF GroupMelbourneAustralia

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