Reducing the risk of developing chronic disease, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes, is an important component of successful aging. Offspring born to mothers who exercise during pregnancy have improved body composition and metabolic profiles. However, mechanisms to explain this phenomenon are lacking. Purpose: This study examined whether maternal step counts were correlated with neonatal gene expression markers related to glucose metabolism and adipogenesis. Methods: Physical activity levels were assessed in women with male neonates via Fitbit Flex® during the second and third trimester of pregnancy. The dartos and epidermal/dermal layers of the foreskin were collected following circumcision in full-term, singleton, neonates (n 5 12 dartos and n 5 14 dermal). Tissue was homogenized, RNA isolated, and a NanoString code set was run to quantify a panel of genes related to glucose metabolism and adipogenesis. Results: Twelve genes were correlated to steps per day with a P-value of <0.05. After adjusting for multiple comparisons, six genes remained significantly correlated to steps per day (False Discovery Rate-corrected P-value < 0.10). Notably, glucose transporter 1, adiponectin receptor 1, and CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein alpha and beta were positively correlated with steps per day, while peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1- alpha were negatively correlated with steps per day. Conclusion: Maternal physical activity is associated with offspring gene expression markers of adipogenesis, insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake. Future studies should aim to mechanistically examine whether these markers are driving increased adiposity in offspring born to sedentary mothers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-94
Number of pages15
JournalPhysiology International
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Akademiai Kiado, Budapest


  • Developmental origins of health and disease
  • Exercise
  • Gestation
  • Obesity
  • Offspring

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology (medical)


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