This review was presented at The Journal of Physiology Symposium on Altered placental function as a cause of altered fetal growth, which took place at the Annual Meeting of The Society for Gynecologic Investigation at Glasgow, UK on 20 March 2009. It was commissioned by the Editorial Board and reflects the views of the authors.
Long chain fatty acids and dietary fats in fetal nutrition
Article first published online: 14 JUL 2009
© 2009 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2009 The Physiological Society
The Journal of Physiology
Volume 587, Issue 14, pages 3441–3451, July 2009
How to Cite
Cetin, I., Alvino, G. and Cardellicchio, M. (2009), Long chain fatty acids and dietary fats in fetal nutrition. The Journal of Physiology, 587: 3441–3451. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2009.173062
- Issue published online: 14 JUL 2009
- Article first published online: 14 JUL 2009
- (Received 28 March 2009; accepted after revision 3 June 2009; first published online 8 June 2009)
Vol. 588, Issue 4, 741, Article first published online: 12 FEB 2010
Long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids are essential nutrients for a healthy diet. The different kinds consumed by the mother during gestation and lactation may influence pregnancy, fetal and also neonatal outcome. The amount of fatty acids transferred from mother to fetus depends not only on maternal metabolism but also on placental function, i.e. by the uptake, metabolism and then transfer of fatty acids to the fetus. The third trimester of gestation is characterized by an increase of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in the fetal circulation, in particular docosahexaenoic acid, especially to support brain growth and visual development. These mechanisms may be altered in pathological conditions, such as intrauterine growth restriction and diabetes, when maternal and fetal plasma levels of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids undergo significant changes. The aim of this review is to describe the maternal and placental factors involved in determining fetal fatty acid availability and metabolism, focusing on the specific role of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in normal and pathological pregnancies.