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New research in mice suggests that eating a high-fat diet at a young age can affect male fertility in adulthood. The first of its kind will be published in the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism before going to press.
With obesity on the rise around the world, especially among children, experts have raised the question of how excessive weight and obesity-related type 2 diabetes can affect sperm quality and male fertility. The dynamics of testicular lipids – fat content and fat metabolism in the testes – play an important role in maintaining the normal structure of the developing sperm. Mitochondrial function – the mitochondria are the energy centers of the cells – and antioxidant defenses provide energy for the production of sperm with normal movement patterns (motility). A new study investigates whether a high-fat diet in childhood can irreversibly affect sperm quality later in life, even after a healthy diet is introduced.
The researchers studied young male mice; One group received a high-fat diet after weaning, and another group received a high-fat diet for two months before switching to a standard diet. Both high fat groups were compared to a control group on a standard diet. After four months on the diet, all mice were randomly placed into mating pairs with age-appropriate females. The research team observed the reproductive success rate and size of each litter. After another 10 weeks, the researchers measured the men's blood sugar, insulin and reproductive hormone levels. They also analyzed sperm for factors including total concentration in the testes, fat content, mitochondrial activity, viability, motility, and morphology (shape).
The research team found that diet does not affect hormone levels and that reducing the amount of fat in the diet helps reverse increased blood sugar levels. However, a high-fat diet negatively affected fat metabolism, caused an accumulation of fatty acids and a reduced function of the antioxidant defense system in the testicles, which did not correct itself when switching to a standard diet. These changes can lead to inflammation and metabolic changes that correspond to long-term sperm defects. The high-fat diet groups also had higher rates of pinhead sperm, a serious defect that changes the shape of the sperm.
The group that switched from a high-fat to a normal diet showed signs of lipolysis – the process of breaking down fats in the body – which is a positive change, but "this process is apparently too slow to restore normal sperm parameters," according to the Researcher wrote.
"Our results show the importance of preventing obesity in children in order to avoid irreversible damage to the reproductive health of tomorrow's fathers with unforeseen effects on their offspring," wrote the research team.
"Early Life Diet Defines Testicular Lipid Content and Adult Sperm Quality" is published in the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism ahead of print.
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Luis Crisóstomo et al. Diet in Early Life Defines Testicle Lipid Content and Sperm Quality in Adulthood, American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism (2020). DOI: 10.1152 / ajpendo.00235.2020
American Physiological Society
A high-fat diet in childhood can affect sperm later in life (2020, October 22nd).
accessed on October 22, 2020
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