Scientists at Helmholtz Zentrum München (HMGU), in collaboration with the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD), have shown that diet-induced obesity and diabetes can be epigenetically inherited by the offspring via both the oocytes and the sperm.
The results were published in Nature Genetics and have received broad international media attention.
For its studies, the team of the Institute of Experimental Genetics (IEG) used mice that had become obese and had developed type 2 diabetes due to a high-fat diet.
Their offspring were obtained solely through in vitro fertilization (IVF) from isolated oocytes and sperm, so that changes in the offspring could only be passed on via these cells. The offspring were carried and born by healthy surrogate mothers.
This enabled the researchers to rule out additional factors such as the behavior of the parents and influences of the mother during pregnancy and lactation.