There is an ever increasing body of evidence that demonstrates that paternal over-nutrition prior to conception programs impaired metabolic health in offspring. Here we examined whether paternal under-nutrition can also program impaired health in offspring and if any detrimental health outcomes in offspring could be prevented by micronutrient supplementation (vitamins and antioxidants). We discovered that restricting the food intake of male rodents reduced their body weight, fertility, increased sperm oxidative DNA lesions and reduced global sperm methylation. Under-nourished males then sired offspring with reduced postnatal weight and growth but somewhat paradoxically increased adiposity and dyslipidaemia, despite being fed standard chow. Paternal vitamin/antioxidant food fortification during under-nutrition not only normalised founder oxidative sperm DNA lesions but also prevented early growth restriction, fat accumulation and dyslipidaemia in offspring. This demonstrates that paternal under-nutrition reduces postnatal growth but increases the risk of obesity and metabolic disease in the next generation and that micronutrient supplementation during this period of under-nutrition is capable of restoring offspring metabolic health.
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