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Eur J Clin Nutr. 2004 Nov;58(11):1492-7.

Plasma AA and DHA levels are not compromised in newly diagnosed gestational diabetic women.

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Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition, London Metropolitan University, London, UK.



The polyunsaturated fatty acids, arachidonic (AA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA), are vital structural and functional components of the neural, vascular and visual systems. There is increased demand for these fatty acids during pregnancy. Diabetes impairs the synthesis of both AA and DHA. We have investigated the possibility that pregnancy-induced diabetes compromises the levels of plasma AA and DHA in newly diagnosed expectant mothers.


Cross-sectional study.


London, UK.


Venous blood was obtained from 44 women with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) and from the same number of nondiabetics, during the third trimester. Fatty acid composition of plasma choline phosphoglycerides (CPG), triglycerides (TG) and cholesterol esters (CE) was analysed.


The GDM women had higher levels of AA (20:4n-6; P<0.0001) and AA/linoleic acid ratio (20:4n-6/18:2n-6; P<0.01) in the CPG, and linoleic acid (LA; P<0.0001), total n-6 (P<0.01), DHA (P<0.05) and n-3 metabolites (P<0.05) in TG compared to their nondiabetic counterparts. Similarly, AA (P<0.0001), osbond acid (22:5n-6; P<0.05), total n-6 metabolites (P<0.0001), AA/LA (P<0.0001) and n-6 metabolites/LA (P<0.01) were higher in the CE of the GDM women. There was no difference in the levels of DHA in CPG and CE between the two groups (P>0.05).


The results of this study do not provide evidence that the activity of delta-6 or delta-5 desaturases, which are vital for the synthesis of AA and DHA, is compromised by pregnancy-induced diabetes. However, since the samples were taken at diagnosis, it is conceivable that the duration of the diabetes was too short to have a discernable adverse effect on the levels of AA and DHA in plasma lipids.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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