Adult exercise effects on oxidative stress and reproductive programming in male offspring of obese rats

Mery Santos, Guadalupe L. Rodríguez-González, Carlos Ibáñez, Claudia C. Vega, Peter W. Nathanielsz, Elena Zambrano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Exercise improves health but few data are available regarding benefits of exercise in offspring exposed to developmental programming. There is currently a worldwide epidemic of obesity. Obesity in pregnant women predisposes offspring to obesity. Maternal obesity has well documented effects on offspring reproduction. Few studies address ability of offspring exercise to reduce adverse outcomes. We observed increased oxidative stress and impaired sperm function in rat offspring of obese mothers. We hypothesized that regular offspring exercise reverses adverse effects of maternal obesity on offspring sperm quality and fertility. Female Wistar rats ate chow (C) or high-energy, obesogenic diet (MO) from weaning through lactation, bred at postnatal day (PND) 120, and ate their pregnancy diet until weaning. All offspring ate C diet from weaning. Five male offspring (different litters) ran on a wheel for 15 min, 5 times/week from PND 330 to 450 and were euthanized at PND 450. Average distance run per session was lower in MO offspring who had higher body weight, adiposity index, and gonadal fat and showed increases in testicular oxidative stress biomarkers. Sperm from MO offspring had reduced antioxidant enzyme activity, lower sperm quality, and fertility. Exercise in MO offspring decreased testicular oxidative stress, increased sperm antioxidant activity and sperm quality, and improved fertility. Exercise intervention has beneficial effects on adiposity index, gonadal fat, oxidative stress markers, sperm quality, and fertility. Thus regular physical exercise in male MO offspring recuperates key male reproductive functions even at advanced age: it’s never too late.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R219-R225
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015


  • Developmental programming
  • Fertility
  • Interventions
  • Oxidative stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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