Gestational exercise protects adult male offspring from high-fat diet-induced hepatic steatosis

Ryan D. Sheldon, A. Nicole Blaize, Justin A. Fletcher, Kevin J. Pearson, Shawn S. Donkin, Sean C. Newcomer, R. Scott Rector

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Background & Aims Mounting evidence indicates that maternal exercise confers protection to adult offspring against various diseases. Here we hypothesized that maternal exercise during gestation would reduce high-fat diet (HFD)-induced hepatic steatosis in adult rat offspring. Methods Following conception, pregnant dams were divided into either voluntary wheel running exercise (GE) or wheel-locked sedentary (GS) groups throughout gestation (days 4-21). Post-weaning, offspring received either normal chow diet (CD; 10% fat, 70% carbohydrate, 20% protein) or HFD (45% fat, 35% carbohydrate, and 20% protein) until sacrificed at 4- or 8-months of age. Results GE did not affect offspring birth weight or litter size. HFD feeding in offspring increased weight gain, body fat percentage, and glucose tolerance test area under the curve (GTT-AUC). Male offspring from GE dams had reduced body fat percentage across all ages (p <0.05). In addition, 8-month male offspring from GE dams were protected against HFD-induced hepatic steatosis, which was associated with increased markers of hepatic mitochondrial biogenesis (PGC-1α and TFAM), autophagic potential (ATG12:ATG5 conjugation) and hepatic triacylglycerol secretion (MTTP). Conclusions The current study provides the first evidence that gestational exercise can reduce susceptibility to HFD-induced hepatic steatosis in adult male offspring.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-178
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Hepatology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Fetal origins
  • Rat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology


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