Free Access
Reprod. Nutr. Dev.
Volume 46, Number 1, January-February 2006
Page(s) 63 - 67
Published online 27 January 2006
Reprod. Nutr. Dev. 46 (2006) 63-67
DOI: 10.1051/rnd:2005061

Docosahexaenoic acid is selectively enriched in plasma phospholipids during pregnancy in Trinidadian women - Results of a pilot study

Graham C. Burdgea, Rachel C. Shermana, Zulaika Alib, Stephen A. Woottona and Alan A. Jacksona

a  Institute of Human Nutrition, Biomedical Sciences Building, University of Southampton, Bassett Crescent East, Southampton, SO16 7PX, UK
b  The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago

(Received 9 May 2005; accepted 31 August 2005; published online 27 January 2006)

Abstract - The fetal demand for docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) has to be satisfied by the mother. We determined the fatty acids in maternal plasma non-esterified fatty acid (NEFA), triacylglycerol (TAG) and phosphatidylcholine (PC), in a cross-sectional study of non-pregnant (n = 10), pregnant (n = 19), and postpartum (n = 9) women. There were lipid class-dependent differences in plasma polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) concentrations between groups. During pregnancy, DHA was most highly enriched in PC, about 230%, with more modest enrichment for linoleic acid (LA) and arachidonic acid (AA), and no enrichment of alpha-linolenic acid ($\alpha$-LNA). There was relative enrichment of LA, AA and $\alpha$-LNA in TAG, but not of DHA. There was no specific enrichment of any PUFA in the NEFA pool. These data accord with the suggestion that the enrichment of $\alpha$-LNA in TAG and of DHA in phospholipids reflects hepatic regulation of n-3 PUFA metabolism which potentially enhances the delivery of DHA to the placenta.

Key words: pregnancy / human / plasma / polyunsaturated fatty acid

Corresponding author: Graham C. Burdge

© INRA, EDP Sciences 2006