"We were able to show that even a transient change in the paternal diet can cause impaired learning skills in offspring. This affected in particular the ability to properly learn a spatial navigation task," said Dan Ehninger, German Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE). It was concluded that father's diet may influence epigenetic patterns, and this reprogramming is transferred to the next generation.
For the study, the team conducted experiments on male mice who received doses of vitamin B12, methionine and folic acid - all categorized as methyl donors. It was found that the offspring of these rodents depicted performance issues in memory and cognitive tests.
The baby mice were also fed methyl donors - methionine, choline, vitamin B12, folic acid, betaine and zinc - as a result the animals depicted abnormal behaviour as well changes in their brains.
Also, nerve connections in the hippocampus - a brain region crucial for memory - of these mice reacted quite sluggishly to electrical stimuli, indicating that the adaptability - the so-called neuronal plasticity - was impaired in offspring mice.
Inputs from IANS