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Paternal cholestasis exacerbates obesity-associated hypertension in male offspring but is prevented by paternal ursodeoxycholic acid treatment

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Early online date24 May 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 May 2018


King's Authors


Obesity is a heterogeneous phenotype and risk associations to non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes are influenced by several factors. The paternal metabolic status at the time of conception influences offspring susceptibility to developing obesity and adiposity-associated cardiometabolic disease. Cholestatic liver diseases are characterized by raised circulating serum bile acid levels and dyslipidemia, and are commonly treated with ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA). We hypothesized that paternal cholestasis alters offspring susceptibility to developing obesity and adiposity-associated cardiometabolic disease and that this may be modified by paternal UDCA treatment.

Cholestasis was induced in male C57BL/6 mice with a 0.5% cholic acid (CA)-supplemented diet for 10 weeks prior to mating with normal chow (NC)-fed females. Offspring of cholestatic and NC-fed fathers were fed either a NC diet or challenged with an obesogenic ‘western diet’ (WD) from 12 weeks of age. Offspring body weight and cardiometabolic function were assessed, and the impact of treatment of paternal cholestasis with UDCA was evaluated.

Male offspring (18 weeks old) of cholestatic fathers challenged with WD had raised fasting insulin, hepatic triglyceride content and serum cholesterol levels compared to diet-matched controls. At 25–29 weeks of age, WD-fed male offspring of cholestatic fathers had higher systolic and diastolic blood pressure than controls and this was prevented by paternal UDCA treatment. In contrast, WD-challenged female offspring of cholestatic fathers showed improved glucose tolerance compared to controls.

We demonstrated in our model of paternal cholestasis that offspring susceptibility to adiposity-associated cardiometabolic disease is affected in a sex-specific manner and paternal UDCA treatment had a protective effect against hypertension in the obese male offspring. The most prevalent human cholestatic conditions are primary sclerosing cholangitis and primary biliary cholangitis. These findings are of clinical relevance to children of men with these conditions.

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