Prostaglandins, leukotrienes, and essential fatty acids

Intrauterine, postpartum and adult relationships between arachidonic acid (AA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

PMID 21561751


Erythrocyte (RBC) fatty acid compositions from populations with stable dietary habits but large variations in RBC-arachidonic (AA) and RBC-docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) provided us with insight into relationships between DHA and AA. It also enabled us to estimate the maternal RBC-DHA (mRBC-DHA) status that corresponded with no decrease in mRBC-DHA during pregnancy, or in infant (i) RBC-DHA or mRBC-DHA during the first 3 months postpartum (DHA-equilibrium) while exclusively breastfeeding. At delivery, iRBC-AA is uniformly high and independent of mRBC-AA. Infants born to mothers with low RBC-DHA exhibit higher, but infants born to mothers with high RBC-DHA exhibit lower RBC-DHA than their mothers. This switch from 'biomagnification' into 'bioattenuation' occurs at 6g% mRBC-DHA. At 6g%, mRBC-DHA is stable throughout pregnancy, corresponds with postpartum infant DHA-equilibrium of 6 and 0.4g% DHA in mature milk, but results in postpartum depletion of mRBC-DHA to 5g%. Postpartum maternal DHA-equilibrium is reached at 8g% mRBC-DHA, corresponding with 1g% DHA in mature milk and 7g% iRBC-DHA at delivery that increases to 8g% during lactation. This 8g% RBC-DHA concurs with the lowest risks of cardiovascular and psychiatric diseases in adults. RBC-data from 1866 infants, males and (non-)pregnant females indicated AA vs. DHA synergism at low RBC-DHA, but antagonism at high RBC-DHA. These data, together with high intakes of AA and DHA from our Paleolithic diet, suggest that bioattenuation of DHA during pregnancy and postnatal antagonism between AA and DHA are the physiological standard for humans across the life cycle.