Send to

Choose Destination
Curr Mol Biol Rep. 2017;3(4):288-296. doi: 10.1007/s40610-017-0083-5. Epub 2017 Nov 9.

Male Obesity: Epigenetic Origin and Effects in Sperm and Offspring.

Author information

1Epidemiology Research Unit, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Leuven, 3000 Leuven, Belgium.
2Clinical and Experimental Endocrinology, Department of Chronic Diseases, Metabolism, and Ageing, KU Leuven University, Leuven, Belgium.


Purpose of Review:

The prevalence of obesity has increased substantially in the current generations of Western countries, and the burden of obesity-related complications has been growing steadily. In men, obesity is not only a major risk factor for serious chronic diseases, concern is growing that the reproductive capacity, and more particularly, their offspring's health may be affected. Obesity-related impaired spermatogenesis is associated with a decrease in microscopic and molecular sperm characteristics and pregnancy success. We hypothesize that epigenetics is an important mediator explaining interactions between an obesogenic environment and sperm/offspring outcomes.

Recent Findings:

Recent studies have explored inter- and transgenerational epigenetic effects in sperm cells and in offspring. Father-to-child effects have been reported in relation to preconceptional nutritional and life-style related factors.


Here, we summarize the current understanding about obesity and molecular or epigenetic underlying mechanisms in sperm. We identify the obesogenic environment of the father before conception as a potential origin of health or disease in the offspring and include it as part of a new concept, the Paternal Origins of Health and Disease (POHaD).


Environment; Epigenetics; Fathers; Male fertility; Obesity; Offspring health; Sperm

Conflict of interest statement

Compliance with Ethical StandardsSam Houfflyn, Christophe Matthys, and Adelheid Soubry declare no potential conflicts of interest.This article contains no studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

Publication type

Publication type

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center