APS Annual Meeting at Experimental Biology

Developmental Origins of Health and Disease: Exercise Metabolism

Symposium — Tuesday, April 27, 2021 — 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM — Virtual Session, Room APS-9
Endocrinology and Metabolism Section — Chair: Zhen Yan — Co-Chair: Margaret Morris

Individuals born after intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) or from parents who are obese are at an increased risk of developing cardiometabolic disease in their adult life. Growth restriction reduces β-cell mass thereby diminishing insulin secretion, and also induces insulin resistance, with impaired insulin signalling in muscle in adult humans who were small for gestational age (SGA) and in rodent models of IUGR. There is also developing evidence that obesity in parents can have similar detrimental effects. Intriguingly, exercising the high fat fed/obese mother, the high fat fed/obese father or their non-obese partner during pregnancy, or the offspring themselves all appear to improve health of the offspring. Much of this work has been undertaken very recently or is still ongoing and the mechanisms responsible for these beneficial effects of exercise are still emerging.  It is clear that epigenetic effects must be at play but the genes that are involved are still being described.   This symposium should have great interest across several sections at EB2021. There has not previously been a symposium on the developmental origins of health and disease in regards to offspring metabolic function despite the growing awareness of the effect of the perinatal environment of offspring health. This symposium will therefore bring members up to speed on this very important area while combining this with an interest in exercise.  It is envisaged that this symposium will have multidisciplinary interest and initiate many new collaborations.  The speakers of this Symposium are leaders in their areas. Professor Zhen Yan has an exception record of strong publications in exercise metabolism and has recently had papers in the journal Diabetes on the benefits of exercise during pregnancy to overcome the detrimental metabolic effects on offspring of a high fat diet in the mother. Professor Morris has worked extensively on the impact of maternal obesity on offspring metabolic and cardiovascular risk, and exploring options for intervention. Her lab recently showed beneficial effects of exercise during gestation on insulin/glucose metabolism in skeletal muscle and fat, with greater benefits in male offspring.  She also had a Nature paper showing the detrimental metabolic effects on offspring of paternal obesity. Prof McConell was the first to show that exercise only early in life can have beneficial metabolic and cardiovascular effects on offspring following intrauterine growth restriction. His laboratory has also found that exercise in offspring early in life or in the pregnant mother can negate the negative metabolic effects of paternal high fat diet/obesity.  


  • Introduction
    Margaret Morris — School of Medical Sciences, University of New South Wales
    10:00 AM - 10:05 AM

  • Exercise During Pregnancy Mitigates Negative Effects of Parental Obesity on Metabolic Function in Adult Offspring
    Zhen Yan — School of Medicine, University of Virginia
    10:05 AM - 10:30 AM

  • Intervening in Maternal Obesity – Exercise and Other Therapeutic Interventions to Improve Offspring Outcomes
    Margaret Morris — School of Medical Sciences, University of New South Wales
    10:30 AM - 10:55 AM

  • Maternal Exercise Mitigates the Effects of Gestational Diabetes on Offspring Vascular Function and Beta Cell Function
    Angela Devlin — Pediatrics, The University of British Columbia, BC Children's Hospital Research Institute
    10:55 AM - 11:20 AM

  • Conclusion
    Zhen Yan — School of Medicine, University of Virginia
    11:20 AM - 11:30 AM

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