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Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 1999 May-Jun;60(5-6):393-9.

Does high polyunsaturated free fatty acid level at the feto-maternal interface alter steroid hormone message during pregnancy?

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INSERM U361 Maternité Baudelocque, Université René Descartes, Paris, France.


Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) are important in pregnancy, fetal development and parturition. We measured free fatty acids (FFA), albumin and alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) in the maternal and fetal circulations of women undergoing elective Caesarean section at term. We also studied the impact of PUFAs on estrogen (ER) and progesterone receptors (PR) binding properties in vitro in the myometria of pregnant women and ex vivo in human myometrial cells in culture. FFA in intervillous blood (I) (feto-maternal interface) and maternal peripheral blood (M) were similar, while those in the umbilical vein (V) and arteries (A) were 2-4 fold lower (P<0.001). PUFA levels were low in M and 3 fold higher in I, A and V (P< 0.001); consequently C20:4 and C22:6 were most abundant in intervillous space. Albumin was uniformly distributed throughout the maternal-fetal unit, but there was a transplacental gradient in AFP. The AFP in the intervillous space had a special conformation (less immuno-reactive, more anionic), suggesting loading with PUFA. Physiological concentrations of C20:4 stimulated estradiol binding, but inhibited progestin binding. C20:4 inhibited progesterone binding by decreasing the number of binding sites, with no change in apparent affinity, in vitro in myometrial tissue and ex vivo in myometrial cells. Thus PUFA may modulate the steroid hormone message, so that the high C20:4 concentration at the maternal-fetal interface at term may help amplify the estrogen signal and inhibit the progesterone signal.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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