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Biol Reprod. 2018 Sep 1;99(3):600-610. doi: 10.1093/biolre/ioy084.

Bovine embryo elongation is altered due to maternal fatty acid supplementation.

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ETH Zurich, Animal Physiology, Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Zurich, Switzerland.
ETH Zurich, Animal Nutrition, Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Zurich, Switzerland.
Bavarian Center for Biomolecular Mass Spectrometry, Technische Universität München, Freising, Germany.
University of Veterinary Medicine, Clinic for Cattle, Endocrinology, Hannover, Germany.
Institute of Biological Chemistry and Nutrition, University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany.
Nutritional Physiology, Technische Universität München, Freising, Germany.
Institute of Clinical Pharmacology, Goethe University Frankfurt, Frankfurt, Germany.


The pre-implantation period is prone to embryonic losses in bovine. Embryo-maternal communication is crucial to support embryo development. Thereby, factors of the uterine fluid (UF) are of specific importance. The maternal diet can affect the UF composition. Since omega 3 fatty acids (omega 3 FA) are considered to be beneficial for reproduction, we investigated if dietary omega 3 FA affected factors in the UF related to embryo elongation. Angus heifers (n = 37) were supplemented with either 450 g of rumen-protected fish oil (omega 3 FA) or sunflower oil (omega 6 FA) for a period of 8 weeks. Following cycle synchronization and artificial insemination, the uteri were flushed post mortem to recover the embryos on day 15 of pregnancy. The UF and tissue samples of endometrium and corpus luteum (CL) were collected. Strikingly, the embryo elongation in the omega 3 group was enhanced compared to the omega 6 group. No differences were observed in uterine prostaglandins, even though the endometrial concentration of their precursor arachidonic acid was reduced in omega 3 compared to omega 6 heifers. The dietary FA neither led to differential expression of target genes in endometrium nor CL nor to a differential abundance of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, cortisol or amino acids in the UF. Interestingly, the omega 3 group displayed a higher plasma progesterone concentration during luteal growth than the omega 6 group, possibly promoting embryo elongation. Further research should include an ovarian perspective to understand the functional link between dietary omega 3 FA and reproductive outcome.


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