Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA) are major components of the cerebral cortex and visual system, where they play a critical role in neural development. We quantitatively mapped fatty acids in 26 regions of the four-week-old breastfed baboon CNS, and studied the influence of dietary DHA and ARA supplementation and prematurity on CNS DHA and ARA concentrations.
Baboons were randomized into a breastfed (B) and four formula-fed groups: term, no DHA/ARA (T-); term, DHA/ARA supplemented (T+); preterm, no DHA/ARA (P-); preterm and DHA/ARA supplemented (P+). At four weeks adjusted age, brains were dissected and total fatty acids analyzed by gas chromatography and mass spectrometry.
DHA and ARA are rich in many more structures than previously reported. They are most concentrated in structures local to the brain stem and diencephalon, particularly the basal ganglia, limbic regions, thalamus and midbrain, and comparatively lower in white matter. Dietary supplementation increased DHA in all structures but had little influence on ARA concentrations. Supplementation restored DHA concentrations to levels of breastfed neonates in all regions except the cerebral cortex and cerebellum. Prematurity per se did not exert a strong influence on DHA or ARA concentrations.
1) DHA and ARA are found in high concentration throughout the primate CNS, particularly in gray matter such as basal ganglia; 2) DHA concentrations drop across most CNS structures in neonates consuming formulas with no DHA, but ARA levels are relatively immune to ARA in the diet; 3) supplementation of infant formula is effective at restoring DHA concentration in structures other than the cerebral cortex. These results will be useful as a guide to future investigations of CNS function in the absence of dietary DHA and ARA.
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
Arachidonic acid (ARA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are routinely added to infant formula to support growth and development. We evaluated the bioequivalence and safety of three ARA-rich oils for potential use in infant formula using the neonatal pig model. The primary outcome for bioequivalence was brain accretion of ARA and DHA. Days 3 to 22 of age, domestic pigs fed one of three formulas, each containing ARA at ~0.64% and DHA at ~0.34% total fatty acids (FA). Control diet ARA was provided by ARASCO® and all diets had DHA from DHASCO® (Martek Biosciences Corp., Columbia, MD). The experimental diets a1 and a2 provided ARA from Refined Arachidonic acid-rich Oil (RAO; Cargill, Inc., Wuhan, China) and SUNTGA40S (Nissui, Nippon Suisan Kaisha, Ltd., Tokyo, Japan), respectively. Formula intake and growth were similar across all diets, and ARA was bioequivalent across treatments in the brain, retina, heart, liver and day 21 RBC. DHA levels in the brain, retina and heart were unaffected by diet. Liver sections, clinical chemistry, and hematological parameters were normal. We conclude that RAO and SUNTGA40S, when added to formula to supply ~0.64% ARA are safe and nutritionally bioequivalent to ARASCO in domestic piglets.
Arachidonic acid; ARASCO; DHASCO; infant nutrition; pig
Molecular regulation of fatty acid desaturase (Fads) gene expression by dietary arachidonic (ARA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) during early postnatal period, when the demand for long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFA) is very high, has not been well defined. The objective of the current study was to determine regulation of liver Fads1, Fads2 and Fads3 classical (CS) and alternative transcripts (AT) expression by dietary ARA and DHA, within the physiological range present in human breast milk, in suckling piglets. Piglets were fed one of six milk replacer formula diets (Formula-reared groups, FR) with varying ARA and DHA content from days 3-28 of age. The ARA/DHA levels of the six formula diets were as follows (% total fatty acid, FA/FA): (A1) 0.1/1.0; (A2) 0.53/1.0; (A3-D3) 0.69/1.0; (A4) 1.1/1.0; (D2) 0.67/0.62; (D1) 0.66/0.33. The control maternal-reared (MR) group remained with the dam. Fads1 expression was not significantly different between FR and MR groups. Fads2 expression was down-regulated significantly in diets with 1:1 ratio of ARA:DHA, compared to MR. Fads2 AT1 expression was highly correlated to Fads2 expression. Fads3 AT7 was the only Fads3 transcript sensitive to dietary LC-PUFA intake and was up-regulated in the formula diets with lowest ARA and DHA content compared to MR. Thus, the present study provides evidence that the proportion of dietary ARA:DHA is a significant determinant of Fads2 expression and LC-PUFA metabolism during the early post-natal period. Further, the data suggest that Fads3 AT7 may have functional significance when dietary supply of ARA and DHA are low during early development.
Arachidonic acid; Docosahexaenoic acid; fatty acid desaturase gene; infant nutrition; piglet
The supply of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6ω–3), important for fetal/infant neurodevelopment, depends on the maternal fatty acid (FA) status, which may be marginal in central Europe. Therefore, we investigated the effect of a daily vitamin/mineral supplement with and without 200 mg DHA from mid-pregnancy through lactation on the DHA concentrations in maternal and infant red blood cell phospholipids (RBC%), and in breast milk FA (%).
At 21 weeks’ gestation, 144 women were enrolled into a randomised, double-blind clinical trial receiving daily: (1) a basic vitamin-mineral supplement (Vit/Min group), (2) Vit/Min plus 4.5 g fructo-oligosaccharide (FOS group), or (3) Vit/Min plus 4.5 g FOS plus 200 mg fish oil-derived DHA (DHA-FOS group). FAs were determined by capillary gas-liquid chromatography.
While maternal RBC-DHA% at enrolment was not different, at 37 weeks gestation, and 3 months after delivery RBC-DHA% were significantly higher in the DHA-FOS group. The breast milk DHA% was twice as high in the DHA-FOS group (0.50%) than in the two others (0.25 %) (p < 0.001), and the ratio ARA/DHA in the DHA-FOS group was 1.0 ± 0.43, in the others 2.1 ± 0.43 (p < 0.001). The RBC-DHA% of the infants in the DHA-FOS group was also significantly higher, and correlated significantly with maternal RBC-DHA% before and 3 months after delivery.
In central Europe, a dose of 200 mg/day DHA from mid-pregnancy through lactation seems appropriate to improve the DHA status of mothers and infants.
Supplements; Docosahexaenoic acid; Pregnancy; Lactation; Concentration; Erythrocytes; Breast milk
The interest in n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) has expanded significantly in the last few years, due to their many positive effects described. Consequently, the interest in fish oil supplementation has also increased, and many different types of fish oil supplements can be found on the market. Also, it is well known that these types of fatty acids are very easily oxidized, and that stability among supplements varies greatly.
Aims of the study
In this pilot study we investigated the effects of two different types of natural fish oils containing different amounts of the n-3 PUFAs eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and antioxidants on plasma and brain fatty acids, blood lipids, vitamin E, and in vivo lipid peroxidation, as well as brain nitric oxide synthase (NOS) activity, an enzyme which has been shown to be important for memory and learning ability.
Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into four groups and fed regular rat chow pellets enriched with 5% (w/w) of butter (control group), a natural fish oil (17.4% EPA and 11.7% DHA, referred to as EPA-rich), and a natural fish oil rich in DHA (7.7% EPA and 28.0% DHA, referred to as DHA-rich). Both of the fish oils were stabilized by a commercial antioxidant protection system (Pufanox®) at production. The fourth group received the same DHA-rich oil, but without Pufanox® stabilization (referred to as unstable). As an index of stability of the oils, their peroxide values were repeatedly measured during 9 weeks. The dietary treatments continued until sacrifice, after 10 days.
Stability of the oils varied greatly. It took the two stabilized oils 9 weeks to reach the same peroxide value as the unstable oil reached after only a few days. Both the stabilized EPA- and DHA-rich diets lowered the triacylglycerols and total cholesterol compared to control (-45%, P < 0.05 and -54%, P < 0.001; -31%, P < 0.05 and -25%, P < 0.01) and so did the unstable oil, but less efficiently. Only the unstable oil increased in vivo lipid peroxidation significantly compared to control (+40%, P < 0.001). Most of the fatty acids in the plasma phospholipids were significantly affected by both the EPA- and DHA-rich diets compared to control, reflecting their specific fatty acid pattern. The unstable oil diet resulted in smaller changes, especially in n-3 PUFAs. In the brain phospholipids the changes were less pronounced, and only the diet enriched with the stabilized DHA-rich oil resulted in a significantly greater incorporation of DHA (+13%, P < 0.01), as well as total n-3 PUFAs (+13%, P < 0.01) compared to control. Only the stabilized DHA-rich oil increased the brain NOS activity (+33%, P < 0.01).
Both the EPA- and DHA-rich diets affected the blood lipids in a similarly positive manner, and they both had a large impact on plasma phospholipid fatty acids. It was only the unstable oil that increased in vivo lipid peroxidation. However, the intake of DHA was more important than that of EPA for brain phospholipid DHA enrichment and brain NOS activity, and the stability of the fish oil was also important for these effects.
Antioxidants; brain; DHA; EPA; fish oil; lipid peroxidation; nitric oxide synthase
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), upon incorporation into tumor tissue, has the potential to sensitize tumors to the effects of chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Although DHA has usually been supplied to tumor tissue in the diet, appropriate dietary conditions required to obtain optimal tumor levels have not been established. Hence, we studied mammary tumor tissue responses in rats fed various durations and doses of DHA. Rats fed a palm-oil enriched diet (diet 0) were switched to diets providing either 0.8 g DHA/d (diet 1) or 1.5 g DHA/d (diet 2). Tumor tissue fatty acid composition was analysed at baseline (diet 0), at weeks 1, 4 and 9 during diet 1 and at week 4 during diet 2. Dietary DHA supplementation differentially increased DHA within phospholipids (PL) and triacylglycerol (TAG) fractions in tumors. DHA level equilibrated between 2 and 4 weeks in PL while DHA increase was more progressive in TAG and did not reach a steady state. A higher dose of DHA further increased DHA content in tumor PL and TAG (P = 0.018 and P < 0.001 respectively). DHA concentration in plasma PL was positively correlated with DHA in tumor PL (r = 0.72; P = 0.0003) and TAG (r = 0.64; P = 0.003). We conclude that dietary DHA supplementation enhances tumor content of DHA in a time- and dose-dependent manner, and that DHA level in plasma PL could be used as a proxy for tumor DHA. These findings have implications for dietary DHA supplementations in cancer patients.
Animals; Carcinoma; chemically induced; metabolism; Dietary Fats; metabolism; Dietary Supplements; Docosahexaenoic Acids; blood; metabolism; Fatty Acids; metabolism; Female; Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental; chemically induced; metabolism; Methylnitrosourea; Phospholipids; metabolism; Rats; Rats, Sprague-Dawley; Tissue Distribution; Triglycerides; metabolism; DHA incorporation; dietary DHA supplementation; mammary tumors; tumor phospholipids; tumor triacylglycerol; plasma phospholipids
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE:
Infant formula is supplemented with long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) because they are hypothesized to improve cognition. Several randomized controlled clinical trials have examined the effect of LCPUFA supplementation of infant formula on cognitive development. We conducted this meta-analysis to examine the efficacy of LCPUFA supplementation of infant formula on early cognitive development.
Two authors searched PubMed, PsychInfo, and Scopus for randomized controlled clinical trials assessing the efficacy of LCPUFA supplementation of infant formulas on cognition. Our analysis was restricted to randomized controlled clinical trials that examined the effect of LCPUFA supplementation on infant cognition using Bayley Scales of Infant Development. Our primary outcome was the weighted mean difference in Bayley Scales of Infant Development score between infants fed formula supplemented with LCPUFA compared with unsupplemented formula. We conducted secondary subgroup analyses and meta-regression to examine the effects of study sample, LCPUFA dose, and trial methodologic quality on measured efficacy of supplementation.
Twelve trials involving 1802 infants met our inclusion criteria. Our meta-analysis demonstrated no significant effect of LCPUFA supplementation of formula on infant cognition. There was no significant heterogeneity or publication bias between trials. Secondary analysis failed to show any significant effect of LCPUFA dosing or prematurity status on supplementation efficacy.
LCPUFA supplementation of infant formulas failed to show any significant effect on improving early infant cognition. Further research is needed to determine if LCPUFA supplementation of infant formula has benefits for later cognitive development or other measures of neurodevelopment.
infant formula; unsaturated fatty acids; infant cognition; long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids; meta-analysis; Bayley Scales of Infant Development
Long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) may influence the immune system. Our objective was to compare the frequency of common illnesses in infants who received formula with or without added LCPUFAs.
In this observational, multi-center, prospective study, infants consumed formula with 17 mg DHA and 34 mg ARA/100 kcal (n = 233) or with no added DHA or ARA (n = 92). Pediatricians recorded respiratory illnesses, otitis media, eczema, and diarrhea through 1 year of age.
Infants who consumed formula with DHA/ARA had lower incidence of bronchitis/bronchiolitis (P = 0.004), croup (P = 0.044), nasal congestion (P = 0.001), cough (P = 0.014), and diarrhea requiring medical attention (P = 0.034). The odds ratio (OR) of having at least one episode of bronchitis/bronchiolitis (0.41, 95% CI 0.24, 0.70; P = 0.001), croup (0.23, 95% CI 0.05, 0.97; P = 0.045), nasal congestion (0.37, 95% CI 0.20, 0.66; P = 0.001), cough (0.52, 95% CI 0.32, 0.86; P = 0.011), and diarrhea requiring medical attention (0.51, 95% CI 0.28, 0.92; P = 0.026) was lower in infants fed DHA/ARA. The OR of an increased number of episodes of bronchitis/bronchiolitis, croup, nasal congestion, cough, and diarrhea, as well as the hazard ratio for shorter time to first episode of bronchitis/bronchiolitis, nasal congestion, cough, and diarrhea were also significantly lower in the DHA/ARA group.
In healthy infants, formula with DHA/ARA was associated with lower incidence of common respiratory symptoms and illnesses, as well as diarrhea.
DHA; ARA; LCPUFAs; Infant; Infant formula; Infant nutrition; Respiratory illness; Diarrhea
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is the most abundant long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid in the brain. Epidemiological studies suggest that consumption of DHA is associated with a reduced incidence of Alzheimer disease. Animal studies demonstrate that oral intake of DHA reduces Alzheimer-like brain pathology.
To determine if supplementation with DHA slows cognitive and functional decline in individuals with Alzheimer disease.
Design, Setting, and Patients
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of DHA supplementation in individuals with mild to moderate Alzheimer disease (Mini-Mental State Examination scores, 14–26) was conducted between November 2007 and May 2009 at 51 US clinical research sites of the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study.
Participants were randomly assigned to algal DHA at a dose of 2 g/d or to identical placebo (60% were assigned to DHA and 40% were assigned to placebo). Duration of treatment was 18 months.
Main Outcome Measures
Change in the cognitive subscale of the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale (ADAS-cog) and change in the Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) sum of boxes. Rate of brain atrophy was also determined by volumetric magnetic resonance imaging in a subsample of participants (n = 102).
A total of 402 individuals were randomized and a total of 295 participants completed the trial while taking study medication (DHA: 171; placebo: 124). Supplementation with DHA had no beneficial effect on rate of change on ADAS-cog score, which increased by a mean of 7.98 points (95% confidence interval [CI], 6.51–9.45 points) for the DHA group during 18 months vs 8.27 points (95% CI, 6.72–9.82 points) for the placebo group (linear mixed-effects model: P = .41). The CDR sum of boxes score increased by 2.87 points (95% CI, 2.44–3.30 points) for the DHA group during 18 months compared with 2.93 points (95% CI, 2.44–3.42 points) for the placebo group (linear mixed-effects model: P = .68). In the subpopulation of participants (DHA: 53; placebo: 49), the rate of brain atrophy was not affected by treatment with DHA. Individuals in the DHA group had a mean decline in total brain volume of 24.7 cm3 (95% CI, 21.4–28.0 cm3) during 18 months and a 1.32% (95% CI, 1.14%–1.50%) volume decline per year compared with 24.0 cm3 (95% CI, 20–28 cm3) for the placebo group during 18 months and a 1.29% (95% CI, 1.07%–1.51%) volume decline per year (P = .79).
Supplementation with DHA compared with placebo did not slow the rate of cognitive and functional decline in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer disease.
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
The current report provides a brief background introducing 30 years of research on LCPUFA and infant development, but focuses mainly on challenges for future studies. Infants fed formulas containing only vegetable fats were found to have lower docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3) and arachidonic acid (ARA, 20:4n-6) status than infants fed human milk. Studies soon focused on efforts to improve LCPUFA status and evaluate functions suggested by early primate studies of DHA deficiency. Despite evidence for the importance of these fatty acids for development, particularly DHA, several recent meta-analyses conclude dietary supplementation does not enhance development. Future studies should employ 1) more finely grained measures of brain development as opposed to global measures; and 2) tests that evaluate development later in childhood when children are able to be tested on more complex behaviors (if found effective these would also be evidence of early brain programming). 3) Studies are needed to understand the cause of high variability in transfer of DHA to the fetus. Finally 4) the role of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of the fatty acid desaturase genes (FADS1/2) of mother and infant needs study to determine how they affect requirements for these fatty acids by the fetus/infant.
This study determined the sensitivity of heart and brain arachidonic acid (ARA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) to the dietary ARA level in a dose-response design with constant, high DHA in neonatal piglets. On day 3 of age, pigs were assigned to 1 of 6 dietary formulas varying in ARA/DHA as follows (% fatty acid, FA/FA): (A1) 0.1/1.0; (A2) 0.53/1.0; (A3-D3) 0.69/1.0; (A4) 1.1/1.0; (D2) 0.67/0.62; (D1) 0.66/0.33. At necropsy (day 28) higher levels of dietary ARA were associated with increased heart and liver ARA, while brain ARA remained unaffected. Dietary ARA had no effect on tissue DHA accretion. Heart was particularly sensitive, with pigs in the intermediate groups having different ARA (A2, 18.6 ± 0.7%; A3, 19.4 ± 1.0%) and a 0.17% increase in dietary ARA resulted in a 0.84% increase in heart ARA. Further investigations are warranted to determine the clinical significance of heart ARA status in developing neonates.
Piglet; Arachidonic acid; Infant nutrition; Docosahexaenoic acid
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3) and arachidonic acid (ARA, 20:4n-6) are the major long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) of the central nervous system (CNS). These nutrients are present in most infant formulas at modest levels, intended to support visual and neural development. There are no investigations in primates of the biological consequences of dietary DHA at levels above those present in formulas but within normal breastmilk levels.
Methods and Findings
Twelve baboons were divided into three formula groups: Control, with no DHA-ARA; “L”, LCPUFA, with 0.33%DHA-0.67%ARA; “L3”, LCPUFA, with 1.00%DHA-0.67%ARA. All the samples are from the precentral gyrus of cerebral cortex brain regions. At 12 weeks of age, changes in gene expression were detected in 1,108 of 54,000 probe sets (2.05%), with most showing <2-fold change. Gene ontology analysis assigns them to diverse biological functions, notably lipid metabolism and transport, G-protein and signal transduction, development, visual perception, cytoskeleton, peptidases, stress response, transcription regulation, and 400 transcripts having no defined function. PLA2G6, a phospholipase recently associated with infantile neuroaxonal dystrophy, was downregulated in both LCPUFA groups. ELOVL5, a PUFA elongase, was the only LCPUFA biosynthetic enzyme that was differentially expressed. Mitochondrial fatty acid carrier, CPT2, was among several genes associated with mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation to be downregulated by high DHA, while the mitochondrial proton carrier, UCP2, was upregulated. TIMM8A, also known as deafness/dystonia peptide 1, was among several differentially expressed neural development genes. LUM and TIMP3, associated with corneal structure and age-related macular degeneration, respectively, were among visual perception genes influenced by LCPUFA. TIA1, a silencer of COX2 gene translation, is upregulated by high DHA. Ingenuity pathway analysis identified a highly significant nervous system network, with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) as the outstanding interaction partner.
These data indicate that LCPUFA concentrations within the normal range of human breastmilk induce global changes in gene expression across a wide array of processes, in addition to changes in visual and neural function normally associated with formula LCPUFA.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid important for neonatal neurodevelopment and immune homeostasis. Preterm infants fed donor milk from a Midwestern source receive only 20% of the intrauterine accretion of DHA. We tested the hypothesis that DHA supplementation of donor mothers would provide preterm infants with DHA intake equivalent to fetal accretion.
Subjects and Methods
After Institutional Review Board approval and informed consent, human milk donors to the Mother's Milk Bank of Ohio were randomized to receive 1 g of DHA (Martek® [now DSM Nutritional Lipids, Columbia, MD]) or placebo soy oil. Dietary intake data were collected and analyzed by a registered dietitian. Fatty acids were measured by gas chromatography/flame ionization detection. Statistical analysis used linear mixed models.
Twenty-one mothers were randomly assigned to either the DHA group (n=10) or the placebo group (n=11). Donor age was a median of 31 years in both groups with a mean lactational stage of 19 weeks. Dietary intake of DHA at baseline in both groups was a median of 23 mg/day (range, 0–194 mg), significantly (p<0.0001) less than the minimum recommended intake of 200 mg/day. The DHA content of milk increased in the DHA-supplemented group (p<0.05).
The women enrolled in this study had low dietary DHA intake. Supplementation with preformed DHA at 1 g/day resulted in increased DHA concentrations in the donor milk with no adverse outcomes. Infants fed donor milk from supplemented women receive dietary DHA levels that closely mimic normal intrauterine accretion during the third trimester.
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
Bioactivities of Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) depend on their chemical forms. The present study was to investigate short term effects of triglyceride (TG), ethyl ester (EE), free fatty acid (FFA) and phospholipid (PL) forms of omega-3 fatty acid (FA) on lipid metabolism in mice, fed high fat or low fat diet.
Male Balb/c mice were fed with 0.7% different Omega-3 fatty acid formulation: DHA bound free fatty acid (DHA-FFA), DHA bound triglyceride (DHA-TG), DHA bound ethyl ester (DHA-EE) and DHA bound phospholipid (DHA-PL) for 1 week, with dietary fat levels at 5% and 22.5%. Serum and hepatic lipid concentrations were analyzed, as well as the fatty acid composition of liver and brain.
At low fat level, serum total cholesterol (TC) level in mice fed diets with DHA-FFA, DHA-EE and DHA-PL were significantly lower than that in the control group (P < 0.05). Hepatic TG level decreased significantly in mice fed diets with DHA-TG (P < 0.05), DHA-EE (P < 0.05) and DHA-PL (P < 0.05), while TC level in liver was significantly lower in mice fed diets with TG and EE compared with the control group (P < 0.05). At high fat level, mice fed diets with DHA-EE and DHA-PL had significantly lower hepatic TC level compared with the control diet (P < 0.05). Hepatic PL concentration experienced a significant increase in mice fed the diet with PL at high fat level (P < 0.05). Furthermore, both at low and high fat levels, hepatic DHA level significantly increased and AA level significantly decreased in all forms of DHA groups (P < 0.05), compared to control groups at two different fat levels, respectively. Additionally, cerebral DHA level in mice fed diets with DHA-FFA, DHA-EE and DHA-PL significantly increased compared with the control at high fat level (P < 0.05), but no significant differences were observed among dietary treatments for mice fed diets with low fat level.
The present study suggested that not only total dietary fat content but also the molecular forms of omega-3 fatty acids contributed to lipid metabolism in mice. DHA-PL showed effective bioactivity in decreasing hepatic and serum TC, TG levels and increasing omega-3 concentration in liver and brain.
Omega-3 fatty acid; DHA; EPA; Lipid metabolism; Triglycerides; Ethyl ester; Phospholipids
Childhood is a period of brain growth and maturation. The long chain omega-3 fatty acid, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), is a major lipid in the brain recognized as essential for normal brain function. In animals, low brain DHA results in impaired learning and behavior. In infants, DHA is important for optimal visual and cognitive development. The usual intake of DHA among toddlers and children is low and some studies show improvements in cognition and behavior as the result of supplementation with polyunsaturated fatty acids including DHA. The purpose of this review was to identify and evaluate current knowledge regarding the relationship of DHA with measures of learning and behavior in healthy school-age children. A systematic search of the literature identified 15 relevant publications for review. The search found studies which were diverse in purpose and design and without consistent conclusions regarding the treatment effect of DHA intake or biomarker status on specific cognitive tests. However, studies of brain activity reported benefits of DHA supplementation and over half of the studies reported a favorable role for DHA or long chain omega-3 fatty acids in at least one area of cognition or behavior. Studies also suggested an important role for DHA in school performance.
docosahexaenoic acid; children; learning; behavior; school performance
Dietary long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFA) are of crucial importance for the development of neural tissues. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of a dietary supplementation in n-3 fatty acids in female rats during gestation and lactation on fatty acid pattern in brain glial cells phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) and phosphatidylserine (PS) in the neonates.
Sprague-Dawley rats were fed during the whole gestation and lactation period with a diet containing either docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 0.55%) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, 0.75% of total fatty acids) or α-linolenic acid (ALA, 2.90%). At two weeks of age, gastric content and brain glial cell PE and PS of rat neonates were analyzed for their fatty acid and dimethylacetal (DMA) profile. Data were analyzed by bivariate and multivariate statistics.
In the neonates from the group fed with n-3 LC-PUFA, the DHA level in gastric content (+65%, P < 0.0001) and brain glial cell PE (+18%, P = 0.0001) and PS (+15%, P = 0.0009) were significantly increased compared to the ALA group. The filtered correlation analysis (P < 0.05) underlined that levels of dihomo-γ-linolenic acid (DGLA), DHA and n-3 docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) were negatively correlated with arachidonic acid (ARA) and n-6 DPA in PE of brain glial cells. No significant correlation between n-3 and n-6 LC-PUFA were found in the PS dataset. DMA level in PE was negatively correlated with n-6 DPA. DMA were found to occur in brain glial cell PS fraction; in this class DMA level was correlated negatively with DHA and positively with ARA.
The present study confirms that early supplementation of maternal diet with n-3 fatty acids supplied as LC-PUFA is more efficient in increasing n-3 in brain glial cell PE and PS in the neonate than ALA. Negative correlation between n-6 DPA, a conventional marker of DHA deficiency, and DMA in PE suggests n-6 DPA that potentially be considered as a marker of tissue ethanolamine plasmalogen status. The combination of multivariate and bivariate statistics allowed to underline that the accretion pattern of n-3 LC-PUFA in PE and PS differ.
High saturated fat diets improve cardiac function and survival in rodent models of heart failure, which may be mediated by changes in mitochondrial function. Dietary supplementation with the n3-polyunsaturated fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n3) is also beneficial in heart failure and can affect mitochondrial function. Saturated fatty acids and DHA likely have opposing effects on mitochondrial phospholipid fatty acyl side chain composition and mitochondrial membrane function, though a direct comparison has not been previously reported. We fed healthy adult rats a standard low-fat diet (11% of energy intake from fat), a low-fat diet supplemented with DHA (2.3% of energy intake) or a high-fat diet comprised of long chain saturated fatty acids (45% fat) for 6 weeks. There were no differences among the three diets in cardiac mass or function, mitochondrial respiration, or Ca2+-induced mitochondrial permeability transition. On the other hand, there were dramatic differences in mitochondrial phospholipid fatty acyl side chains. Dietary supplementation with DHA increased DHA from 7% to ∼25% of total phospholipid fatty acids in mitochondrial membranes, and caused a proportional depletion of arachidonic acid (20:4n6). The saturated fat diet increased saturated fat and DHA in mitochondria and decreased linoleate (18:2n6), which corresponded to a decrease in Ca2+ uptake by isolated mitochondria compared to the other diet groups. In conclusion, despite dramatic changes in mitochondrial phospholipid fatty acyl side chain composition by both the DHA and high saturated fat diets, there were no effects on mitochondrial respiration, permeability transition, or cardiac function.
Cardiovascular; mitochondria; n3-polyunsaturated fatty acids; nutrition; phospholipid; saturated fatty acids
The aim of this study was to examine infant feeding and the long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (LCPUFA) concentration of breast milk and formulas in relation to infant development. The prospective Pregnancy, Infection and Nutrition Study (n = 358) collected data on breastfeeding, breast milk samples and the formulas fed through 4 months post-partum. At 12 months of age, infants’ development was assessed (Mullen Scales of Early Learning). Linear regression was used to examine development in relation to breastfeeding, breast milk docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (AA) concentration, and DHA and AA concentration from the combination of breast milk and formula. The median breast milk DHA concentration was 0.20% of total fatty acids [interquartile range (IQR) = 0.14, 0.34]; median AA concentration was 0.52% (IQR = 0.44, 0.63). Upon adjustment for preterm birth, sex, smoking, race and ethnicity and education, breastfeeding exclusivity was unrelated to development. Among infants exclusively breastfed, breast milk LCPUFA concentration was not associated with development (Mullen composite, DHA: adjusted β = −1.3, 95% confidence interval: −10.3, 7.7). Variables combining DHA and AA concentrations from breast milk and formula, weighted by their contribution to diet, were unassociated with development. We found no evidence of enhanced infant development related to the LCPUFA content of breast milk or formula consumed during the first four post-natal months.
arachidonic acid; breast milk; docosahexaenoic acid; infant feeding; polyunsaturated fatty acids; breastfeeding
Clinical studies suggest that intake of ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (ω-3 PUFA) may lower the incidence of heart failure. Dietary supplementation with ω-3 PUFA exerts metabolic and anti-inflammatory effects that could prevent left ventricle (LV) pathology; however, it is unclear whether these effects occur at clinically relevant doses and whether there are differences between ω-3 PUFA from fish [eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)] and vegetable sources [α-linolenic acid (ALA)].
Methods and results
We assessed the development of LV remodelling and pathology in rats subjected to aortic banding treated with ω-3 PUFA over a dose range that spanned the intake of humans taking ω-3 PUFA supplements. Rats were fed a standard food or diets supplemented with EPA+DHA or ALA at 0.7, 2.3, or 7% of energy intake. Without supplementation, aortic banding increased LV mass and end-systolic and -diastolic volumes. ALA supplementation had little effect on LV remodelling and dysfunction. In contrast, EPA+DHA dose-dependently increased EPA and DHA, decreased arachidonic acid in cardiac membrane phospholipids, and prevented the increase in LV end-diastolic and -systolic volumes. EPA+DHA resulted in a dose-dependent increase in the anti-inflammatory adipokine adiponectin, and there was a strong correlation between the prevention of LV chamber enlargement and plasma levels of adiponectin (r = −0.78). Supplementation with EPA+DHA had anti-aggregatory and anti-inflammatory effects as evidenced by decreases in urinary thromboxane B2 and serum tumour necrosis factor-α.
Dietary supplementation with ω-3 PUFA derived from fish, but not from vegetable sources, increased plasma adiponectin, suppressed inflammation, and prevented cardiac remodelling and dysfunction under pressure overload conditions.
α-linolenic acid; Diet; Docosahexaenoic acid; Eicosapentaenoic acid; Heart failure
Long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs) are important mediators in improving and maintaining human health over the total lifespan. One topic we especially focus on in this review is omega-3 LC-PUFA docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Adequate DHA levels are essential during neurodevelopment and, in addition, beneficial in cognitive processes throughout life. We review the impact of DHA on societal relevant metabolic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and diabetes mellitus type 2 (T2DM). All of these are risk factors for cognitive decline and dementia in later life. DHA supplementation is associated with a reduced incidence of both stroke and atherosclerosis, lower bodyweight and decreased T2DM prevalence. These findings are discussed in the light of different stages in the human life cycle: childhood, adolescence, adulthood and in later life. From this review, it can be concluded that DHA supplementation is able to inhibit pathologies like obesity and cardiovascular disease. DHA could be a dietary protector against these metabolic diseases during a person’s entire lifespan. However, supplementation of DHA in combination with other dietary factors is also effective. The efficacy of DHA depends on its dose as well as on the duration of supplementation, sex, and age.
docosahexaenoic acid; humans; metabolic diseases; cardiovascular disease; obesity; diabetes mellitus type II
Dietary supplementation with (ω)-3 long chain fatty acids including docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) has increased in popularity in recent years and adequate DHA supplementation during pregnancy and early childhood is of clinical importance. Some evidence has been built for the neuro-cognitive benefits of supplementation with long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) such as DHA during pregnancy; however, recent data indicate that the anti-inflammatory properties may be of at least equal significance. Adequate DHA availability in the fetus/infant optimizes brain and retinal maturation in part by influencing neurotransmitter pathways. The anti-inflammatory properties of LCPUFA are largely mediated through modulation of signaling either directly through binding to receptors or through changes in lipid raft formation and receptor presentation. Our goal is to review the current findings on DHA supplementation, specifically in pregnancy and infant neurodevelopment, as a pharmacologic agent with both preventative and therapeutic value. Given the overall benefits of DHA, maternal and infant supplementation may improve neurological outcomes especially in vulernable populations. However, optimal composition of the supplement and dosing and treatment strategies still need to be determined to lend support for routine supplementation.
DHA; long chain fatty acids; natural products; lipids; omega-3
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