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Int J Exp Pathol. 2015 Apr;96(2):94-102. doi: 10.1111/iep.12126. Epub 2015 Mar 25.

Maternal use of flaxseed oil during pregnancy and lactation prevents morphological alterations in pancreas of female offspring from rat dams with experimental diabetes.

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Laboratory of Experimental Nutrition, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Nutrition College, Fluminense Federal University, Niterói, Brazil.
Medical College, Rio de Janeiro Federal University, Macaé, Brazil.


Nutritional recommendations have promoted the increased need to consume n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Flaxseed is the richest dietary source of n-3 fatty acids among plant sources and is widely used for its edible oil. This study aimed to investigate whether maternal use of flaxseed oil has effects on pancreas morphology in the female offspring of diabetic mothers. Female Wistar rats (n = 12) were induced into diabetes by a high-fat diet and low dose of streptozotocin. After confirmation of the diabetes, rats were mated, and once pregnancy was confirmed, they were allocated into three groups (n = 6): high-fat group (HG); flaxseed oil group (FOG); and control group (CG) (non-diabetic rats). At weaning, female offspring (n = 6/group) received standard chow diet. The animals were euthanized at 180 days. Pancreas was collected for histomorphometric and immunohistochemistry analysis. HG showed hypertrophy of pancreatic islets (P < 0.0001), whereas FOG offspring had islets with smaller diameters compared to HG (P < 0.0001). HG offspring showed higher percentage of larger (P = 0.0061) and lower percentage of smaller islets (P = 0.0036). HG showed lower islet insulin immunodensity at 180 days (P < 0.0001), whereas FOG was similar to CG (P < 0.0001). Flaxseed oil reduced the damage caused by maternal hyperglycaemia, promoting normal pancreas histomorphometry and β-cell mass in female offspring.


diabetes; flaxseed oil; gestational; metabolic programming; pancreas; rat

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