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J Nutr. 2014 Mar;144(3):258-66. doi: 10.3945/jn.113.179259. Epub 2014 Jan 22.

Maternal dietary docosahexaenoic acid supplementation attenuates fetal growth restriction and enhances pulmonary function in a newborn mouse model of perinatal inflammation.

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  • 1Center for Perinatal Research, The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, OH.


The preterm infant is often exposed to maternal and neonatal inflammatory stimuli and is born with immature lungs, resulting in a need for oxygen therapy. Nutritional intervention with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 6.3 g/kg of diet) has been shown to attenuate inflammation in various human diseases. Previous studies demonstrated that maternal DHA supplementation during late gestation and lactation attenuated hyperoxic lung injury in newborn mouse pups. In the present studies, we tested the hypothesis that DHA supplementation to the dam would reduce hyperoxic lung injury and growth deficits in a more severe model of systemic maternal inflammation, including lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and neonatal hyperoxia exposure. On embryonic day 16, dams were placed on DHA (6.3 g DHA/kg diet) or control diets and injected with saline or LPS. Diets were maintained through weaning. At birth, pups were placed in room air or hyperoxia for 14 d. Improvements in birth weight (P < 0.01), alveolarization (P ≤ 0.01), and pulmonary function (P ≤ 0.03) at 2 and 8 wk of age were observed in pups exposed to perinatal inflammation and born to DHA-supplemented dams compared with control diet-exposed pups. These improvements were associated with decreases in tissue macrophage numbers (P < 0.01), monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 expression (P ≤ 0.05), and decreases in soluble receptor for advanced glycation end products concentrations (P < 0.01) at 2 and 8 wk. Furthermore, DHA supplementation attenuated pulmonary fibrosis, which was associated with the reduction of matrix metalloproteinases 2, 3, and 8 (P ≤ 0.03) and collagen mRNA (P ≤ 0.05), and decreased collagen (P < 0.01) and vimentin (P ≤ 0.03) protein concentrations. In a model of severe inflammation, maternal DHA supplementation lessened inflammation and improved lung growth in the offspring. Maternal supplementation with DHA may be a therapeutic strategy to reduce neonatal inflammation.

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