Investigating the Role of Fish Oil in Preventing Paternal Obesity, and Improving Metabolic Health of the Offspring

Latha Ramalingam (NFS) PI, 2021-2022 Falk College Seed Grant, 7/1/21-6/30/22

Impact of early-life nutrition on offspring health had traditionally focused on maternal (mostly intrauterine) obesity leaving paternal obesity out of the picture. Currently in the United States, about 2 in 3 males of reproductive age are either overweight or suffer from obesity. Moreover, obesity in fathers appears to initiate changes in sperm genetics, including alterations in gene regulators called miRNAs. Fish oil (FO) derived from fatty fish is beneficial in regulating body weight and lowering inflammation. FO reduces adverse effects of maternal obesity and improves offspring health. Still unknown, however, is the role of FO consumption in the period before conception and its role in paternal metabolic health and the subsequent impact on offspring. While human studies highlight the associations between parent and child, it is difficult to accurately study the role of FO in paternal preconception in humans because it is rare that only one parent is obese. Hence, animal models of paternal obesity with controlled environmental conditions are necessary to fill the knowledge gap. The overall objective of this proposal is to identify mechanisms of FO that reduce or prevent paternal obesity and thereby improve the metabolic health of mice offspring. Upon completion, we expect to identify the role of FO in improving offspring health and the genetic regulators that alter metabolic health. These results are expected to provide strong evidence for fish or FO consumption in fathers to improve their metabolic health and ultimately reduce the rates of childhood obesity.