Effect of omega-3 lcpufa supplementation on maternal fatty acid and oxylipin concentrations during pregnancy

K P Best, R A Gibson, L N Yelland, S Leemaqz, J Gomersall, G Liu, M Makrides

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


INTRODUCTION: Omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) have been associated with a reduction in risk for preterm birth. However, there is limited understanding of how fatty acids and their bioactive derivatives (oxylipins) change over the course of pregnancy. Here we document the changes in concentration of fatty acids and oxylipins during pregnancy and how fatty acid status and oxylipin concentrations are affected by supplementation with omega-3 LCPUFA. We also investigate the degree to which fatty acid and oxylipin changes across pregnancy are influenced by baseline omega-3 status.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We profiled the fatty acids in all lipids in dried blood spots (total blood fatty acids) by gas chromatography and free (unesterified) fatty acids and their associated oxylipins in separate dried blood spot samples by LC-MS-MS collected from a random sample of 1263 women with a singleton pregnancy who participated in the ORIP (Omega-3 fats to Reduce the Incidence of Prematurity) trial. ORIP is a double-blind, randomized controlled trial involving 5544 participants and designed to determine the effect of supplementing the diets of pregnant women with omega-3 LCPUFA on the incidence of early preterm birth. Maternal whole blood finger prick samples were collected at baseline (~14 weeks gestation) and at completion of the study intervention period (34 weeks gestation).

RESULTS: The concentration of most total and free polyunsaturated fatty acids and their associated oxylipins declined over the course of pregnancy. Omega-3 LCPUFA supplementation increased total DHA and 7-HDHA and mitigated the decline in free DHA, 4-HDHA and 14-HDHA. The intervention had minimal or no effect on free EPA, LA, AA and their associated oxylipins. Omega-3 LCPUFA supplementation in women with higher omega-3 status at baseline was associated with a significant increase in 7-HDHA and 4-HDHA between the treatment and control whereas there were no differences between groups in 7-HDHA and 4-HDHA in women with intermediate or lower baseline omega-3 status.

CONCLUSION: Our data suggest a differential response with or without omega-3 supplementation for DHA and DHA-derived oxylipins, which may have an important role to play in modulating pregnancy duration. Further work is needed to understand their role, which may allow us to better tailor omega-3 supplementation for preterm birth prevention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102181
JournalProstaglandins, leukotrienes, and essential fatty acids
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Sept 2020

Cite this