American journal of physiology. Endocrinology and metabolism

Materno-fetal transfer of docosahexaenoic acid is impaired by gestational diabetes mellitus.

PMID 23921142


Better knowledge on the disturbed mechanisms implicated in materno-fetal long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (LC-PUFA) transfer in pregnancies with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) may have potentially high implications for later on in effective LC-PUFA supplementation. We studied in vivo placental transfer of fatty acids (FA) using stable isotope tracers administrated to 11 control and 9 GDM pregnant women (6 treated with insulin). Subjects received orally [(13)C]palmitic, [(13)C]oleic and [(13)C]linoleic acids, and [(13)C]docosahexaenoic acid ((13)C-DHA) 12 h before elective caesarean section. Maternal blood samples were collected at -12, -3, -2, and -1 h, delivery, and +1 h. Placental tissue and venous cord blood were also collected. FA were quantified by gas chromatography (GC) and (13)C enrichments by GC-isotope ratio mass spectrometry. [(13)C]FA concentration was higher in total lipids of maternal plasma in GDM vs. controls, except for [(13)C]DHA. Moreover, [(13)C]DHA showed lower placenta/maternal plasma ratio in GDM vs. controls and significantly lower cord/maternal plasma ratio. For the other studied FA, ratios were not different between GDM and controls. Disturbed [(13)C]DHA placental uptake occurs in both GDM treated with diet or insulin, whereas the last ones also have lower [(13)C]DHA in venous cord. The tracer study pointed toward impaired placental DHA uptake as critical step, whereas the transfer of the rest of [(13)C]FA was less affected. GDM under insulin treatment could also have higher fetal fat storage, contributing to reduce [(13)C]DHA in venous cord. DHA transfer to the fetus was reduced in GDM pregnancies compared with controls, which might affect the programming of neurodevelopment in their neonates.

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cis-4,7,10,13,16,19-Docosahexaenoic acid, ≥98%