Scientific literature is increasingly reporting on dietary deficiencies in many populations of some nutrients critical for foetal and infant brain development and function. Purpose: To highlight the potential benefits of maternal supplementation with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and other important complimentary nutrients, including vitamin D, folic acid and iodine during pregnancy and/or breast feeding for foetal and/or infant brain development and/or function. Methods: English language systematic reviews, meta-analyses, randomised controlled trials, cohort studies, cross-sectional and case-control studies were obtained through searches on MEDLINE and the Cochrane Register of Controlled Trials from January 2000 through to February 2012 and reference lists of retrieved articles. Reports were selected if they included benefits and harms of maternal supplementation of DHA, vitamin D, folic acid or iodine supplementation during pregnancy and/or lactation. Results: Maternal DHA intake during pregnancy and/or lactation can prolong high risk pregnancies, increase birth weight, head circumference and birth length, and can enhance visual acuity, hand and eye co-ordination, attention, problem solving and information processing. Vitamin D helps maintain pregnancy and promotes normal skeletal and brain development. Folic acid is necessary for normal foetal spine, brain and skull development. Iodine is essential for thyroid hormone production necessary for normal brain and nervous system development during gestation that impacts childhood function. Conclusion: Maternal supplementation within recommended safe intakes in populations with dietary deficiencies may prevent many brain and central nervous system malfunctions and even enhance brain development and function in their offspring.
docosahexaenoic acid; DHA; vitamin D; folic acid; iodine; foetal development; infant development; brain function; brain development; eye function
Higher long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCP) in infant compared with maternal lipids at delivery is named biomagnification. The decline of infant and maternal docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) status during lactation in Western countries suggests maternal depletion. We investigated whether biomagnification persists at lifelong high fish intakes and whether the latter prevents a postpartum decline of infant and/or maternal DHA status.
We studied 3 Tanzanian tribes with low (Maasai: 0/week), intermediate (Pare: 2–3/week), and high (Sengerema: 4–5/week) fish intakes. DHA and arachidonic acid (AA) were determined in maternal (m) and infant (i) erythrocytes (RBC) during pregnancy (1st trimester n = 14, 2nd = 103, 3rd = 88), and in mother–infant pairs at delivery (n = 63) and at 3 months postpartum (n = 104).
At delivery, infants of all tribes had similar iRBC-AA which was higher than, and unrelated to, mRBC-AA. Transplacental DHA biomagnification occurred up to 5.6 g% mRBC-DHA; higher mRBC-DHA was associated with “bioattenuation” (i.e., iRBC-DHA < mRBC-DHA). Compared to delivery, mRBC-AA after 3 months was higher, while iRBC-AA was lower. mRBC-DHA after 3 months was lower, while iRBC-DHA was lower (low fish intake), equal (intermediate fish intake), and higher (high fish intake) compared to delivery. We estimated that postpartum iRBC-DHA equilibrium is reached at 5.9 g%, which corresponds to a mRBC-DHA of 6.1 g% throughout pregnancy.
Uniform high iRBC-AA at delivery might indicate the importance of intrauterine infant AA status. Biomagnification reflects low maternal DHA status, and bioattenuation may prevent intrauterine competition of DHA with AA. A mRBC-DHA of about 6 g% during pregnancy predicts maternal–fetal equilibrium at delivery, postnatal iRBC-DHA equilibrium, but is unable to prevent a postnatal mRBC-DHA decline.
Biomagnification; Bioattenuation; Pregnancy; Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids; Docosahexaenoic acid; Arachidonic acid; Equilibrium
It is believed that during mid-to-late gestation, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an n-3 fatty acid, plays an important role in fetal and infant brain development, including neurocognitive and neuromotor functions. Deficits in several such functions have been associated with schizophrenia. Though sufficient levels of DHA appear to be important in neurodevelopment, elevated maternal DHA levels have also been associated with abnormal reproductive outcomes in both animal models and humans. Our objective was to assess whether a disturbance in maternal DHA levels, measured prospectively during pregnancy, was associated with risk of schizophrenia and other schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SSD) in adult offspring. In order to test the hypothesis that abnormal levels of DHA are associated with SSD, a case-control study nested within a large, population-based birth cohort, born from 1959 through 1967 and followed up for SSD from 1981 through 1997, was utilized. Maternal levels of both DHA and of arachidonic acid (AA), an n-6 fatty acid, were analyzed in archived maternal sera from 57 cases of SSD and 95 matched controls. There was a greater than two-fold increased risk of SSD among subjects exposed to maternal serum DHA in the highest tertile (OR=2.38, 95% CI=1.19, 4.76, p=0.01); no such relationship was found between AA and SSD. These findings suggest that elevated maternal DHA is associated with increased risk for the development of SSD in offspring.
docosahexaenoic acid; arachidonic acid; schizophrenia; prenatal
Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) influence immune function and inflammation; however, the influence of maternal DHA supplementation on infant morbidity is unknown. We investigated the effects of prenatal DHA supplementation on infant morbidity.
In a double-blind randomized controlled trial conducted in Mexico, pregnant women received daily supplementation with 400 mg of DHA or placebo from 18 to 22 weeks' gestation through parturition. In infants aged 1, 3, and 6 months, caregivers reported the occurrence of common illness symptoms in the preceding 15 days.
Data were available at 1, 3, and 6 months for 849, 834, and 834 infants, respectively. The occurrence of specific illness symptoms did not differ between groups; however, the occurrence of a combined measure of cold symptoms was lower in the DHA group at 1 month (OR: 0.76; 95% CI: 0.58–1.00). At 1 month, the DHA group experienced 26%, 15%, and 30% shorter duration of cough, phlegm, and wheezing, respectively, but 22% longer duration of rash (all P ≤ .01). At 3 months, infants in the DHA group spent 14% less time ill (P < .0001). At 6 months, infants in the DHA group experienced 20%, 13%, 54%, 23%, and 25% shorter duration of fever, nasal secretion, difficulty breathing, rash, and “other illness,” respectively, but 74% longer duration of vomiting (all P < .05).
DHA supplementation during pregnancy decreased the occurrence of colds in children at 1 month and influenced illness symptom duration at 1, 3, and 6 months.
DHA; omega-3 fatty acids; prenatal; infant; morbidity
Dietary intake of long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) has been reported to decrease several markers of lymphocyte activation and modulate monocyte susceptibility to apoptosis. However most human studies examined the combined effect of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) using relatively high daily amounts of n-3 PUFA. The present study investigated the effects of increasing doses of DHA added to the regular diet of human healthy volunteers on lymphocyte response to tetradecanoylphorbol acetate (TPA) plus ionomycin activation, and on monocyte apoptosis induced by oxidized LDL (oxLDL). Eight subjects were supplemented with increasing daily doses of DHA (200, 400, 800 and 1600mg) in a triacylglycerol form containing DHA as the only PUFA, for two weeks each dose. DHA intake dose-dependently increased the proportion of DHA in mononuclear cell phospholipids, the augmentation being significant after 400mg DHA/day. The TPA plus ionomycin-stimulated IL-2 mRNA level started to increase after ingestion of 400mg DHA/day, with a maximum after 800mg intake, and was positively correlated (P<0.003) with DHA enrichment in cell phospholipids. The treatment of monocytes by oxLDL before DHA supplementation drastically reduced mitochondrial membrane potential as compared with native LDL treatment. OxLDL apoptotic effect was significantly attenuated after 400mg DHA/day and the protective effect was maintained throughout the experiment, although to a lesser extent at higher doses. The present results show that supplementation of the human diet with low DHA dosages improves lymphocyte activability. It also increases monocyte resistance to oxLDL-induced apoptosis, which may be beneficial in the prevention of atherosclerosis.
DHA enrichment; interleukin-2; mitochondrial membrane potential; oxidized LDL
Aim: To test the hypothesis that maternal docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplementation during pregnancy enhances maturation of the visual evoked potential (VEP) in healthy term infants.
Methods: One hundred women were supplemented with either fish oil capsules rich in DHA (n = 50) or placebo capsules (n = 50) from week 15 of pregnancy until delivery. Total fatty acids in red blood cells and plasma were measured at weeks 15, 28, and 40 of pregnancy and at delivery in umbilical cord blood. Infant visual pathway development was assessed using VEPs recorded to flash stimuli shortly after birth and to both flash and pattern-reversal stimuli at 50 and 66 weeks post-conceptional age (PCA).
Results: Maternal supplementation did not significantly elevate the level of DHA in umbilical cord blood. Moreover, there were no significant differences in any of the VEP measures observed between supplementation groups. However, maturity of the pattern-reversal VEP at 50 and 66 weeks PCA was associated with DHA status of the infants at birth. Infants with higher DHA status, both as a concentration and as a percentage of total fatty acids, showed shorter P100 peak latencies of the pattern-reversal VEP than those with lower DHA status.
Conclusions: Maternal DHA supplementation during pregnancy did not enhance VEP maturation in healthy term infants. However, these results show an association between the DHA status of infants at term and early postnatal development of the pattern-reversal VEP, suggesting that DHA status itself may influence maturation of the central visual pathways.
In this observational study, we compared erythrocyte membrane fatty acids in infants consuming formula supplemented with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA) with those consuming other types of milks. In 110 infants who were participants in a cohort study of otherwise healthy children at risk for developing type 1 diabetes, erythrocytes were collected at approximately 9 months of age, and fatty acid content was measured as a percent of total lipids. Parents reported the type of milk the infants consumed in the month of and prior to erythrocyte collection – infant formula supplemented with ARA and DHA (supplemented formula), formula with no ARA and DHA supplements (non-supplemented formula), breast-milk, or non-supplemented formula plus breast-milk. Membrane DHA (4.42 versus 1.79, p < 0.001) and omega-3 fatty acid (5.81 versus 3.43, p < 0.001) levels were higher in infants consuming supplemented versus non-supplemented formula. Omega-6 fatty acids were lower in infants consuming supplemented versus non-supplemented formula (26.32 versus 29.68, p = 0.023); ARA did not differ between groups. Infants given supplemented formula had higher DHA (4.42 versus 2.81, p < 0.001) and omega-3 fatty acids (5.81 versus 4.45, p = 0.008) than infants drinking breast-milk. In infants whose mothers did not receive any dietary advice, use of supplemented formula is associated with higher omega-3 and lower omega-6 fatty acid status.
Arachidonic Acid; Docosahexaenoic Acid; Breastfeeding; Infant Feeding; Infant Formula; Infant Feeding Behavior
AIM—To investigate whether the low
docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) status of malnourished, mostly breast fed,
Pakistani children can be improved by fish oil (FO) supplementation.
METHODS—Ten malnourished children
(aged 8-30 months) received 500 mg FO daily for nine weeks. The
supplement contained 62.8 mol% (314mg) long chain polyunsaturated
fatty acids of the ω3 series (LCPUFAω3) and 22.5 mol% (112 mg)
DHA. Seven FO unsupplemented children served as controls. Red blood
cell (RBC) fatty acids were analysed at baseline and at the study end.
augmented mean (SD) RBC DHA from 2.27 (0.81) to 3.35 (0.76) mol%,
without significantly affecting the concentrations of LCPUFAω6.
Unsupplemented children showed no RBC fatty acid changes. One FO
supplemented child with very low initial RBC arachidonic acid showed a
remarkable increase from 4.04 to 13.84 mol%, whereas another with high
RBC arachidonic acid showed a decrease from 15.64 to 10.46 mol%.
improves the DHA status of malnourished children. The supplement is
apparently well absorbed and not exclusively used as a source of energy.
A double-blind, randomized, controlled, parallel-group prospective trial was conducted to determine whether a dose-response existed for four different levels of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplementation on the cognitive performance of infants. A total of 122 term infants were fed one of four different formulas varying in their DHA composition (0.00%, 0.32%, 0.64% and 0.96% of total fatty acids as DHA) from birth to 12 months. The three DHA-supplemented formulas also contained 0.64% of total fatty acids as arachidonic acid (ARA, 20:4n-6). Infants were tested at 4, 6, and 9 months of age on a visual habituation protocol that yielded both behavioral and psychophysiological indices of attention. Infants in all DHA+ARA-supplemented conditions had lower heart rates than those in the unsupplemented condition; there was no dose-response for this effect. The distribution of time that infants spent in different phases of attention (a cognitive index derived from the convergence of behavioral and cardiac responses) varied as a function of dosage. Infants supplemented at the two lower DHA doses spent proportionately more time engaged in active stimulus processing than infants fed the unsupplemented formula, while infants fed the highest dose were intermediate and did not differ from any other group.
Patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are at risk of osteoporosis. Vitamin D (vitD) deficiency is known as a risk factor of osteoporosis. We observed low vitD blood levels in adult IBD patients both at the end of summer and winter. Furthermore, effects of oral vitD supplementation in (generally low) daily dosages were poor.
Patients with IBD are at risk of osteoporosis. This study evaluates seasonal vitD status, determinants of vitD deficiency and effects of vitD supplementation in adult IBD patients.
Patients were screened for vitD deficiency at the end of summer and winter using serum 25OHD3 (cut-off point, <50 nmol/L) combined with routine laboratory tests. A standardized questionnaire was used for demographic/lifestyle data i.e. IBD activity, health behaviour and vitD intake through diet and ultraviolet light.
Late-summer, 39% of the included 316 patients were vitD deficient. Late-winter, 57% of the follow-up patients (n = 281) were deficient. Independent protective determinants of vitD deficiency were oral vitD supplementation (summer/winter: odds ratio [OR], 0.52 [95% confidence interval [CI], 0.29–0.94]/OR, 0.44 [95% CI, 0.26–0.75]), recent sun holiday (summer: OR, 0.42 [95% CI, 0.24–0.74]) and regular solarium visits (summer/winter: OR, 0.28 [95% CI, 0.13–0.63]/OR, 0.17 [0.06–0.50]). IBD activity (p = 0.031), red blood cell distribution width (RDW; p = 0.04) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (p = 0.03) were associated with low vitD levels using univariate analyses of the extreme 25OHD quartiles. In a subgroup with vitD supplementation, still 30% (late-summer) and 44% (late-winter) were vitD deficient.
VitD deficiency is common in IBD patients, but prevalence might be comparable with the general population. Ultraviolet light is essential for adequate vitD levels. Effects of oral vitD supplementation in (generally low) daily dosages are poor. Determinants for low vitD levels were IBD activity and elevated inflammatory markers, suggesting that increased risk of osteoporosis in IBD might be more related to the inflammation than to vitD deficiency.
Inflammatory bowel disease; Osteoporosis; Pathophysiology; Prevalence; Seasonal variation; Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D
Major depressive disorder (MDD) during pregnancy and postpartum depression are associated with significant maternal and neonatal morbidity. While antidepressants are readily used in pregnancy, studies have raised concerns regarding neurobehavioral outcomes in exposed infants. Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation, most frequently from fish oil, has emerged as a possible treatment or prevention strategy for MDD in non-pregnant individuals, and may have beneficial effects in pregnant women. Although published observational studies in the psychiatric literature suggest that maternal docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) deficiency may lead to the development of MDD in pregnancy and postpartum, there are more intervention trials suggesting clinical benefit for supplementation with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in MDD.
The Mothers, Omega-3 and Mental Health study is a double blind, placebo-controlled, randomized controlled trial to assess whether omega-3 fatty acid supplementation may prevent antenatal and postpartum depressive symptoms among pregnant women at risk for depression. We plan to recruit 126 pregnant women at less than 20 weeks gestation from prenatal clinics at two health systems in Ann Arbor, Michigan and the surrounding communities. We will follow them prospectively over the course of their pregnancies and up to 6 weeks postpartum. Enrolled participants will be randomized to one of three groups: a) EPA-rich fish oil supplement (1060 mg EPA plus 274 mg DHA) b) DHA-rich fish oil supplement (900 mg DHA plus 180 mg EPA; or c) a placebo. The primary outcome for this study is the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) score at 6 weeks postpartum. We will need to randomize 126 women to have 80% power to detect a 50% reduction in participants' mean BDI scores with EPA or DHA supplementation compared with placebo. We will also gather information on secondary outcome measures which will include: omega-3 fatty acid concentrations in maternal plasma and cord blood, pro-inflammatory cytokine levels (IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α) in maternal and cord blood, need for and dosage of antidepressant medications, and obstetrical outcomes. Analyses will be by intent to treat.
This study compares the relative effectiveness of DHA and EPA at preventing depressive symptoms among pregnant women at risk.
Clinical trial registration number: NCT00711971
In patients with cirrhotic liver diseases, supplementation of linoleic acid and α-linolenic acid often does not alter the levels of arachidonic acid (AA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), suggesting the necessity to directly provide these nutrients.
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled fashion, 9 cirrhotic patients listed for liver transplantation at Lahey Clinic Center were given daily supplementation with either 10 gel caps containing 500 mg of AA and 1000 mg of DHA (AA/DHA) or 250 mg of linolenic acid (LA) and 125 mg of oleic acid (OA; OA/LA) for 6 weeks. α-Tocopherol at 200 IU was provided daily. No other dietary prescription was made. Plasma fatty acid profiles were determined in triglyceride and phospholipids fractions. Plasma levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), tumor necrosis factor (TNF), interleukin 6 (IL-6), and soluble TNF receptor II (sTNFRII) were also measured.
Four patients receiving OA/LA and 5 patients receiving AA/DHA completed the study without evidence of any adverse effects or intolerance. The supplementation of LA, AA, and DHA effectively raised their levels in either one or both plasma lipid fractions in this limited number of subjects. DHA plus AA also lowered 22:4ω-6, 22:5ω-6, and 22:5ω-3, suggesting that DHA reduced the elongation and desaturation of AA and EPA.
It is feasible to improve the liver disease–associated deficiency of AA or DHA with modest intakes of AA and DHA. Whether this maneuver will affect the systemic inflammatory responsiveness and ultimately clinical outcome will require a large-scale and well-controlled intervention.
Dietary fat intake is extremely low in most communities with vitamin A deficiency. However, its role in vitamin A status of pregnant and lactating women is poorly understood. The aim of the study was to examine the effect of supplementing women with fat from mid-/late pregnancy until six months postpartum on their vitamin A status and that of their infants. Women recruited at 5-7 months of gestation were supplemented daily with 20 mL of soybean-oil (n=248) until six months postpartum or received no supplement (n=251). Dietary fat intake was assessed by 24-hour dietary recall at enrollment and at 1, 3 and 6 months postpartum. Concentrations of maternal plasma retinol, β-carotene, and lutein were measured at enrollment and at 1, 3 and 6 months postpartum, and those of infants at six months postpartum. Concentration of breastmilk retinol was measured at 1, 3 and 6 months postpartum. The change in concentration of plasma retinol at three months postpartum compared to pregnancy was significantly higher in the supplemented compared to the control women (+0.04 vs -0.07 μmol/L respectively; p<0.05). Concentrations of plasma β-carotene and lutein declined in both the groups during the postpartum period but the decline was significantly less in the supplemented than in the control women at one month (β-carotene -0.07 vs -0.13 μmol/L, p<0.05); lutein -0.26 vs -0.49 μmol/L, p<0.05) and three months (β-carotene -0.04 vs -0.08 μmol/L, p<0.05; lutein -0.31 vs -0.47 μmol/L, p<0.05). Concentration of breastmilk retinol was also significantly greater in the supplemented group at three months postpartum than in the controls (0.68±0.35 vs 0.55±0.34 μmol/L respectively, p<0.03). Concentrations of infants’ plasma retinol, β-carotene, and lutein, measured at six months of age, did not differ between the groups. Fat supplementation during pregnancy and lactation in women with a very low intake of dietary fat has beneficial effects on maternal postpartum vitamin A status.
Community-based studies; Fat supplementation; Infant; Postpartum;Pregnancy; Vitamin A; Vitamin A deficiency; Bangladesh
Along with other investigations, patients presenting to an environmental health clinic with various chronic conditions were assessed for bone health status. Individuals with compromised bone strength were educated about skeletal health issues and provided with therapeutic options for potential amelioration of their bone health. Patients who declined pharmacotherapy or who previously experienced failure of drug treatment were offered other options including supplemental micronutrients identified in the medical literature as sometimes having a positive impact on bone mineral density (BMD). After 12 months of consecutive supplemental micronutrient therapy with a combination that included vitamin D3, vitamin K2, strontium, magnesium and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), repeat bone densitometry was performed. The results were analyzed in a group of compliant patients and demonstrate improved BMD in patients classified with normal, osteopenic and osteoporotic bone density. According to the results, this combined micronutrient supplementation regimen appears to be at least as effective as bisphosphonates or strontium ranelate in raising BMD levels in hip, spine, and femoral neck sites. No fractures occurred in the group taking the micronutrient protocol. This micronutrient regimen also appears to show efficacy in individuals where bisphosphonate therapy was previously unsuccessful in maintaining or raising BMD. Prospective clinical trials are required to confirm efficacy.
Vitamins A and E, and the trace elements selenium (Se) and zinc (Zn) are essential for the health and performance of dairy cows. Their concentrations often decrease around calving and extra supplementation is sometimes recommended at that time. However, the need for this varies, for example depending on quantity and quality of feedstuffs in the diet. The aim of this study was to measure the concentrations of serum vitamin A (S-vit A) and vitamin E (S-vit E), plasma Se (P-Se) and serum Zn (S-Zn) in blood samples taken at several time points from one month before to one month after calving, and to evaluate if a blood sample taken during the mid dry period can accurately predict the blood concentration at calving and early lactation. Dairy cows on 3 different feeding regimens during the dry period were included in the study. A significant decrease in the concentrations of S-vit A and S-vit E, and S-Zn, was observed at calving, and P-Se was significantly lower during the dry period and at calving than in early lactation. The blood concentrations of S-vit E and P-Se in the mid dry period significantly predicted the occurrence of values considered marginal or deficient at the time of calving. The data indicate that a mid dry period concentration of ≥5.4 mg/l of S-vit E and ≥0.09 mg/l of P-Se will result in a 90% chance that the cow stays above marginal levels at calving given that a feed of the same quality is offered.
Vitamin A; vitamin E; selenium; zinc; dairy cows; parturition; supplementation.
Background. It is currently recommended that diet of pregnant mothers contain 200–300 mg DHA/day. Aim. To determine whether DHA supplementation during pregnancy and lactation affects infants' immune response. Methods. 60 women in ≥3rd pregnancy studied; 30 randomly assigned to receive DHA 400 mg/day from 12th week gestation until 4 months postpartum. From breast-fed infants, blood obtained for anti-HBs antibodies, immunoglobulins, lymphocyte subset phenotyping, and intracellular cytokine production. Results. CD4+ lymphocytes did not differ between groups, but CD4CD45RA/CD4 (naïve cells) significantly higher in infants in DHA+ group. Proportion of CD4 and CD8 cells producing IFNγ significantly lower in DHA+ group, with no differences in proportion of IL4-producing cells. Immunoglobulins and anti-HBs levels did not differ between groups. Conclusions. In infants of mothers receiving DHA supplementation, a higher percentage of CD4 naïve cells and decreased CD4 and CD8 IFNγ production is compatible with attenuation of a proinflammatory response.
Information on the status of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFA) in pregnancy and breast milk in very high fish eating populations is limited. The aim of this study was to examine dietary intake and changes in fatty acid status in a population of pregnant women in the Republic of Seychelles. Serum docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) decreased significantly between 28 weeks gestation and delivery (n=196). DHA status did not correlate significantly with length of gestation and was not associated with self reported fish intake which was high at 527 g/wk. In breast milk, the ratio of DHA to arachidonic acid (AA) was consistent with those observed in other high fish eating populations. Overall the data suggest that high exposure to LCPUFAs from habitual fish consumption does not prevent the documented decrease in LCPUFA status in pregnancy that occurs as a result of fetal accretion in the third trimester of pregnancy.
Adipogenesis and lipogenesis are highly sensitive to the nutritional environment in utero and in early postnatal life. Omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) inhibit adipogenesis and lipogenesis in adult rats, however it is not known whether supplementing the maternal diet with omega-3 LCPUFA results in reduced fat deposition in the offspring. Female Albino Wistar rats were fed either a standard chow (Control, n = 10) or chow designed to provide ∼15 mg/kg/day of omega-3 LCPUFA, chiefly as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), throughout pregnancy and lactation (Omega-3, n = 11) and all pups were weaned onto a commercial rat chow. Blood and tissues were collected from pups at 3 and 6 weeks of age and weights of visceral and subcutaneous fat depots recorded. The expression of adipogenic and lipogenic genes in the subcutaneous and visceral fat depots were determined using quantitative real time reverse transcription-PCR. Birth weight and postnatal growth were not different between groups. At 6 weeks of age, total percentage body fat was significantly increased in both male (5.09 ± 0.32% vs. 4.56 ± 0.2%, P < 0.04) and female (5.15 ± 0.37% vs. 3.89 ± 0.36%, P < 0.04) offspring of omega-3 dams compared to controls. The omega-3 LCPUFA content of erythrocyte phospholipids (as a% of total fatty acids) was higher in omega-3 offspring (6.7 ± 0.2% vs. 5.6 ± 0.2%, P < 0.001). There was no effect of maternal omega-3 LCPUFA supplementation on the expression of adipogenic or lipogenic genes in the offspring in either the visceral or subcutaneous fat depots. We have therefore established that an omega-3 rich environment during pregnancy and lactation in a rodent model increases fat accumulation in both male and female offspring, particularly in subcutaneous depots, but that this effect is not mediated via upregulation adipogenic/lipogenic gene transcription. These data suggest that maternal n−3 LCPUFA supplementation during pregnancy/lactation may not be an effective strategy for reducing fat deposition in the offspring.
omega-3; adipose tissue; maternal nutrition
To compare the effect of two prebiotic/probiotic products on weight gain, stool microbiota, and stool short chain fatty acid content of premature infants.
This randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled trial included 90 premature infants treated with either a dietary supplement containing two lactobacillus species plus fructo-oligosaccharides (CUL, Culturelle®, ConAgra, Omaha, Nebraska, USA), a supplement containing several species of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria plus fructo-oligosaccharides (PBP, ProBioPlus DDS®, UAS Laboratories, Eden Prairie, Minnesota, USA), or placebo (a dilute preparation of Pregestamil formula) twice daily for 28 days or until discharge if earlier. The primary outcome was weight gain. Secondary outcomes were stool bacterial analysis by culture and 16S rDNA qPCR and stool short chain fatty acid content by high performance liquid chromatography.
Both prebiotic/probiotic combinations contained more bacterial species than noted on the label. No significant effect on growth of either prebiotic/probiotic supplement was observed. By cultures, 64% of infants receiving PBP became colonized with bifidobacteria, compared to 18% of infants receiving CUL and 27% of infants receiving placebo (Chi Squared p=0.064). No differences were noted between groups in colonization rates for lactobacilli, Gram-negative enteric bacteria or staphylococci. By 16S rDNA PCR analysis, the bifidobacteria content in the stools of the infants receiving PBP was higher than in the infants receiving CUL or placebo (Kruskal-Wallis p=0.011). No significant differences in stool short chain fatty acid content were detected between groups. No adverse reactions were noted.
Infants receiving PBP were more likely to become colonized with bifidobacteria. No significant differences in weight gain or stool short chain fatty acid content were detected.
Probiotic; prebiotic; synbiotic; premature infant; growth; microflora; bifidobacteria; lactobacilli; butyrate
Potential adverse effects of excess maternal folic acid supplementation on a vegetarian population deficient in vitamin B12 are poorly understood. We have previously shown in a rat model that maternal folic acid supplementation at marginal protein levels reduces brain omega-3 fatty acid levels in the adult offspring. We have also reported that reduced docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) levels may result in diversion of methyl groups towards DNA in the one carbon metabolic pathway ultimately resulting in DNA methylation. This study was designed to examine the effect of normal and excess folic acid in the absence and presence of vitamin B12 deficiency on global methylation patterns in the placenta. Further, the effect of maternal omega 3 fatty acid supplementation on the above vitamin B12 deficient diets was also examined. Our results suggest maternal folic acid supplementation in the absence of vitamin B12 lowers plasma and placental DHA levels (p<0.05) and reduces global DNA methylation levels (p<0.05). When this group was supplemented with omega 3 fatty acids there was an increase in placental DHA levels and subsequently DNA methylation levels revert back to the levels of the control group. Our results suggest for the first time that DHA plays an important role in one carbon metabolism thereby influencing global DNA methylation in the placenta.
Mitochondria can depolarize and trigger cell death through the opening of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore (MPTP). We recently showed that an increase in the long chain n3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6n3) and depletion of the n6 PUFA arachidonic acid (ARA; 20:4n6) in mitochondrial membranes is associated with a greater Ca2+ load required to induce MPTP opening. Here we manipulated mitochondrial phospholipid composition by supplementing the diet with DHA, ARA or combined DHA+ARA in rats for 10 weeks. There were no effects on cardiac function, or respiration of isolated mitochondria. Analysis of mitochondrial phospholipids showed DHA supplementation increased DHA and displaced ARA in mitochondrial membranes, while supplementation with ARA or DHA+ARA increased ARA and depleted linoleic acid (18:2n6). Phospholipid analysis revealed a similar pattern, particularly in cardiolipin. Tetralinoleoyl cardiolipin was depleted by 80% with ARA or DHA+ARA supplementation, with linoleic acid side chains replaced by ARA. Both the DHA and ARA groups had delayed Ca2+-induced MPTP opening, but the DHA+ARA group was similar to the control diet. In conclusion, alterations in mitochondria membrane phospholipid fatty acid composition caused by dietary DHA or ARA was associated with a greater cumulative Ca2+ load required to induced MPTP opening. Further, high levels of tetralinoleoyl cardiolipin were not essential for normal mitochondrial function if replaced with very-long chain n3 or n6 PUFAs.
To investigate the effects of daily supplementation with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) on coronary heart disease risks in 38 middle-aged men with hypertension and/or hypercholesterolemia in Scotland, a five-week double-blind placebo-controlled dietary supplementation with either 2 g of DHA or active placebo (1 g of olive oil) was conducted. Percent composition of DHA in plasma phospholipids increased significantly in DHA group. Systolic and diastolic blood pressure and heart rate decreased significantly in DHA group, but not in placebo group. High-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) increased significantly, and total cholesterol (TC)/HDL-C and non-HDL-C/HDL-C ratios decreased significantly in both groups. There was no change in TC and non-HDL-C. We conclude that 2 g/day of DHA supplementation reduced coronary heart disease risk factor level improving blood pressure, heart rate, and lipid profiles in hypertensive, hypercholesterolemic Scottish men who do not eat fish on a regular basis.
Folate, vitamin B-12, and vitamin B-6 are essential nutritional components in one-carbon metabolism and are required for methylation capacity. The availability of these vitamins may therefore modify methylation of phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) to phosphatidylcholine (PC) by PE-N-methyltransferase (PEMT) in the liver. It has been suggested that PC synthesis by PEMT plays an important role in the transport of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) like docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from the liver to plasma and possibly other tissues. We hypothesized that if B-vitamin supplementation enhances PEMT activity, then supplementation could also increase the concentration of plasma levels of PUFAs such as DHA. To test this hypothesis, we determined the effect of varying the combined dietary intake of these three B-vitamins on plasma DHA concentration in rats.
In a first experiment, plasma DHA and plasma homocysteine concentrations were measured in rats that had consumed a B-vitamin-poor diet for 4 weeks after which they were either continued on the B-vitamin-poor diet or switched to a B-vitamin-enriched diet for another 4 weeks. In a second experiment, plasma DHA and plasma homocysteine concentrations were measured in rats after feeding them one of four diets with varying levels of B-vitamins for 4 weeks. The diets provided 0% (poor), 100% (normal), 400% (enriched), and 1600% (high) of the laboratory rodent requirements for each of the three B-vitamins.
Plasma DHA concentration was higher in rats fed the B-vitamin-enriched diet than in rats that were continued on the B-vitamin-poor diet (P = 0.005; experiment A). Varying dietary B-vitamin intake from deficient to supra-physiologic resulted in a non-linear dose-dependent trend for increasing plasma DHA (P = 0.027; experiment B). Plasma DHA was lowest in rats consuming the B-vitamin-poor diet (P > 0.05 vs. normal, P < 0.05 vs. enriched and high) and highest in rats consuming the B-vitamin-high diet (P < 0.05 vs. poor and normal, P > 0.05 vs. enriched). B-vitamin deficiency significantly increased plasma total homocysteine but increasing intake above normal did not significantly reduce it. Nevertheless, in both experiments plasma DHA was inversely correlated with plasma total homocysteine.
These data demonstrate that dietary folate, vitamin B-12, and vitamin B-6 intake can influence plasma concentration of DHA.
B-vitamins; Plasma DHA; Plasma homocysteine; Methylation capacity; Rats
This is a case report of adrenomyeloneuropathy (AMN), the adult variant of adrenoleukodystryphy (ALD). The diagnoses in the patient, aged 34, was confirmed via increased serum very long chain fatty acid concentration (VLCFA). Treatment started with the cholesterol lowering drug, atorvastatin, followed by add-on therapy with Lorenzo's oil (LO) and finally supplementation with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of the AMN patient before DHA treatment, already showed abnormal white matter in the brain. Although the MRI showed no neurological improvement after 6 months of DHA treatment, no selective progression of demyelination was detected in the AMN patient. Contrary to what was expected, LO failed to sustain or normalize the VLCFA levels or improve clinical symptoms. It was however, shown that DHA supplementation in addition to LO, increased DHA levels in both plasma and red blood cells (RBC). Additionally, the study showed evidence that the elongase activity in the elongation of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) to docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) might have been significantly compromised, due to the increased DHA levels.
Adrenoleukodystrophy; Adrenomyeloneuropathy; Lorenzo's oil; Docosahexaenoic acid; polyunsaturated fatty acids
Consumption of ω-3 fatty acids from fish oil, specifically eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), decreases risk for heart failure and attenuates pathologic cardiac remodeling in response to pressure overload. Dietary supplementation with EPA+DHA may also impact cardiac mitochondrial function and energetics through alteration of membrane phospholipids. We assessed the role of EPA+DHA supplementation on left ventricular (LV) function, cardiac mitochondrial membrane phospholipid composition, respiration, and sensitivity to mitochondrial permeability transition pore (MPTP) opening in normal and infarcted myocardium. Rats were subjected to sham surgery or myocardial infarction by coronary artery ligation (n=10–14), and fed a standard diet, or supplemented with EPA+DHA (2.3% of energy intake) for 12 weeks. EPA+DHA altered fatty acid composition of total mitochondrial phospholipids and cardiolipin by reducing arachidonic acid content and increasing DHA incorporation. EPA+DHA significantly increased calcium uptake capacity in both subsarcolemmal and intrafibrillar mitochondria from sham rats. This treatment effect persisted with the addition of cyclosporin A, and was not accompanied by changes in mitochondrial respiration or coupling, or cyclophilin D protein expression. Myocardial infarction resulted in heart failure as evidenced by LV dilation and contractile dysfunction. Infarcted LV myocardium had decreased mitochondrial protein yield and activity of mitochondrial marker enzymes, however respiratory function of isolated mitochondria was normal. EPA+DHA had no effect on LV function, mitochondrial respiration, or MPTP opening in rats with heart failure. In conclusion, dietary supplementation with EPA+DHA altered mitochondrial membrane phospholipid fatty acid composition in normal and infarcted hearts, but delayed MPTP opening only in normal hearts.
eicosapentaenoic acid; docosahexaenoic acid; myocardial infarction; mitochondrial permeability transition pore