DHA supplementation eases placental inflammation in obese pregnant women
Maternal supplementation of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) during pregnancy reduces placental inflammation and differentially modulates placental nutrient transport capacity, according to a study. It may also attenuate adverse effects of maternal obesity on placental function.
DHA supplementation elevated erythrocyte (p<0.0001) and placental membrane DHA levels (p<0.0001) but appeared to have no effect on maternal inflammatory status, insulin sensitivity or lipids. In addition, DHA supplementation lessened placental inflammation, amino acid transporter expression and activity, as well as increased placental protein expression of fatty acid transporting protein 4 (p<0.05).
A total of 38 obese pregnant women were supplemented with DHA (800 mg, algal oil) or placebo (corn/soy oil) daily from 26 weeks to term in an academic healthcare institution to determine the effects of DHA supplementation on maternal metabolism and placental function. The authors collected maternal fasting blood at 26 and 36 weeks’ gestation, and placentas at term.
DHA content of maternal erythrocyte and placental membranes, maternal fasting blood glucose, cytokines, metabolic hormones, and circulating lipids were determined. The authors evaluated insulin, mTOR and inflammatory signalling in placental homogenates, and determined nutrient transport capacity in isolated syncytiotrophoblast plasma membranes.
In one study, researchers found that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy in overweight and obese women inhibited the placenta from esterifying and storing lipids. [Am J Clin Nutr 2016;103:1064-1072]
“Maternal obesity in pregnancy has profound impacts on maternal metabolism and promotes placental nutrient transport, which may contribute to foetal overgrowth in these pregnancies,” the authors said. “The fatty acid DHA has bioactive properties that may improve outcomes in obese pregnant women by modulating placental function.”