Maternal Parity and Diet (n-3) Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Concentration Influence Accretion of Brain Phospholipid Docosahexaenoic Acid in Developing Rats


Ozias MK, Carlson SE, Levant B. J Nutr 2007;137:125-29.


The long-chain PUFA, docosahexaenoic acid [22:6(n-3), DHA], a major component of neuronal membrane phospholipids, accumulates in brain during late prenatal and early neonatal development and is essential for optimal attentional and cognitive function. Because all nutrition is supplied to the developing fetus/neonate by the mother and maternal DHA status is affected by parity, this study examined the effects of maternal diet and parity on DHA accretion in the developing brain. Whole brain total phospholipid fatty acid composition was determined by TLC and GC in weanling male Long-Evans rats (n = 5) from the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th litters of dams fed diets containing alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), containing ALA and preformed DHA (ALA + DHA), or lacking ALA (low-ALA). First-litter low-ALA offspring exhibited a decrease in phospholipid fatty acid DHA content to 68% of 1st-litter ALA pups. DHA in 2nd-litter low-ALA pups was further decreased to 55% of 1st-litter ALA pups, but further decreases were not observed in subsequent litters. DHA levels increased 15-20% in 2nd to 4th-litter ALA + DHA pups and 11% in 4th-litter ALA pups compared with 1st-litter ALA pups. These findings demonstrate that maternal diet and parity interact to affect offspring brain DHA status and suggest that maternal multiparity may place offspring at greater risk of decreased accretion of brain DHA if the maternal diet contains insufficient (n-3) PUFA.