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J Lipid Res. 2018 Jan;59(1):123-136. doi: 10.1194/jlr.M080309. Epub 2017 Nov 22.

PEMT, Δ6 desaturase, and palmitoyldocosahexaenoyl phosphatidylcholine are increased in rats during pregnancy.

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Department of Kinesiology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.
Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
Department of Kinesiology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada


DHA is important for fetal neurodevelopment. During pregnancy, maternal plasma DHA increases, but the mechanism is not fully understood. Using rats fed a fixed-formula diet (DHA as 0.07% total energy), plasma and liver were collected for fatty acid profiling before pregnancy, at 15 and 20 days of pregnancy, and 7 days postpartum. Phosphatidylethanolamine methyltransferase (PEMT) and enzymes involved in PUFA synthesis were examined in liver. Ad hoc transcriptomic and lipidomic analyses were also performed. With pregnancy, DHA increased in liver and plasma lipids, with a large increase in plasma DHA between day 15 and day 20 that was mainly attributed to an increase in 16:0/DHA phosphatidylcholine (PC) in liver (2.6-fold) and plasma (3.9-fold). Increased protein levels of Δ6 desaturase (FADS2) and PEMT at day 20 and increased Pemt expression and PEMT activity at day 15 suggest that during pregnancy, both DHA synthesis and 16:0/DHA PC synthesis are upregulated. Transcriptomic analysis revealed minor changes in the expression of genes related to phospholipid synthesis, but little insight on DHA metabolism. Hepatic PEMT appears to be the mechanism for increased plasma 16:0/DHA PC, which is supported by increased DHA biosynthesis based on increased FADS2 protein levels.


16:0/docosahexaenoic acid phosphatidylcholine; blood; fatty acids; liver; microarray; nutrition/lipids; omega-3 fatty acids; phosphatidylethanolamine methyltransferase; phospholipids; prenatal nutritional physiological phenomena; tandem mass spectrometry

[Available on 2019-01-01]

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