Sperm Epigenome in Obesity

  • Nur Duale
  • Oliwia Witczak
  • Gunnar Brunborg
  • Trine B. Haugen
  • Birgitte LindemanEmail author
Reference work entry


Male obesity may have intergenerational and even transgenerational effects in mammals. Studies in rodents have revealed alterations in energy metabolism and disease susceptibility in offspring of obese males, pointing to sperm epigenetic modifications as probable causal factors. To date there is a paucity of studies examining obesity-related changes in the sperm epigenome, and the available epidemiological studies are limited. Upon fertilization, modifications to sperm nuclear and cytoplasmic factors, like RNAs, and to sperm chromatin are likely to influence early embryo gene expression. The available data on the sperm epigenome suggest that sperm DNA methylation status and small noncoding RNA expression patterns are susceptible to obesity-associated modifications. Very little information exists on potential diet-induced modification of sperm histones. Currently, the evidence is most convincing for the involvement of sperm RNA species from obese fathers in the modification of embryo development and offspring energy metabolism.


Obesity Sperm Epigenome High-fat diet sncRNA miRNA tsRNA piRNA DNA methylation Sperm chromatin integrity Histone Protamine 

List of Abbreviations


Control diet


DNA fragmentation index


Differentially methylated regions


High-fat diet








PIWI-interacting RNA


Reduced-representation bisulfite sequencing


Sperm chromatin structure assay


Small non-coding RNA


tRNA-derived small RNA


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nur Duale
    • 1
  • Oliwia Witczak
    • 2
  • Gunnar Brunborg
    • 1
  • Trine B. Haugen
    • 2
  • Birgitte Lindeman
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Molecular Biology, Infection Control and Environmental HealthNorwegian Institute of Public HealthOsloNorway
  2. 2.Faculty of Health SciencesOslo and Akershus University College of Applied SciencesOsloNorway
  3. 3.Department of Toxicology and Risk, Infection Control and Environmental HealthNorwegian Institute of Public HealthOsloNorway

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