DEC 06, 2015 7:47 AM PST

Sperm Carry Obesity Epigenetic Marks


Before and during pregnancy, the onus has been heavily on the woman to be healthy - no drinking, smoking, drug use, etc. - because her health affects the health of the baby. But men are not off the hook, as a new study says that a man's health is reflected in his sperm.

The study found that sperm carry genetic information as well as epigenetic information. Lean and obese men have sperm that possess different epigenetic marks, notably at genes associated with appetite control. This may offer a biological explanation of predisposition to obesity in children of obese fathers.

Additionally, in men that underwent weight-loss surgery, researchers identified an average of 5,000 structural changes in sperm DNA before and after surgery. It's not definitive what this all means, but it's clear that sperm carry much more than just a man's DNA, as previously thought.

We've known that obesity affects the fertility of sperm, and this study highlights yet another connection between a father and his offspring. The results of this study imply that men should also follow the health recommendations given to women when trying to conceive a baby.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at
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