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Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2008 Mar;78(3):159-69. doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2008.01.004. Epub 2008 Mar 14.

Maternal and fetal brain contents of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (AA) at various essential fatty acid (EFA), DHA and AA dietary intakes during pregnancy in mice.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.


We investigated essential fatty acids (EFA) and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCP) in maternal and fetal brain as a function of EFA/LCP availability to the feto-maternal unit in mice. Diets varying in parent EFA, arachidonic acid (AA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) were administered from day 3 prior to conception till day 15 of pregnancy. We concentrated on DHA, AA, Mead acid, and EFA-index [(omega-3+omega-6)/(omega-7+omega-9)] in maternal erythrocytes, maternal brain, and fetal brain. It was found that erythrocyte EFA/LCP sensitively reflects declining EFA/LCP status in pregnancy, although this decline was not apparent in maternal brain. Differences in erythrocyte EFA/LCP coincided with larger differences in fetal brain EFA/LCP as compared to EFA/LCP in maternal brain. Both maternal and fetal brains were affected by short-term EFA/LCP intake, but the developing fetal brain proved most sensitive. The inverse relationship between fetal brain AA and DHA suggests the need of a maternal dietary DHA/AA balance, at least in mice.

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