Low arachidonic acid rather than alpha-tocopherol is responsible for the delayed postnatal development in offspring of rats fed fish oil instead of olive oil during pregnancy and lactation.J Nutr 2000; 130(11):2855-65JN
This study was designed to compare in rats the effects of dietary fish oil and olive oil during pregnancy and lactation on offspring development, fatty acid profile and vitamin E concentration. From d 0 of pregnancy, female Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into two groups that were fed purified diets that differed only in their nonvitamin lipid components. One diet contained 10 g fish oil/100 g diet (FOD), whereas the other contained 10 g olive oil/100 g diet (OOD). At d 20 of gestation, maternal adipose tissue fatty acid profile did not differ between rats fed the two diets, whereas both maternal and fetal plasma and liver arachidonic acid (AA) contents were proportionally lower and eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) acid contents were higher in the FOD group than in the OOD group. alpha-Tocopherol concentration was lower in maternal and fetal plasma, liver and brain in the FOD group than in the OOD group. The postnatal increase in body weight and length was less and body and psychomotor maturation indices were delayed in pups from FOD-fed dams compared with those from OOD-fed dams. This difference was maintained when pups were cross-fostered at birth, with the delay in postnatal development present in the pups suckling dams fed FOD during lactation. At age 21 d, pups suckling dams fed FOD had lower AA and higher EPA and DHA concentrations in brain phospholipids. Although alpha-tocopherol in plasma and liver was lower in pups suckling dams fed FOD rather than OOD, brain alpha-tocopherol concentrations did not differ. Milk yield and milk alpha-tocopherol and AA concentrations were lower and EPA and DHA were higher in the milk of dams fed FOD compared with those fed OOD. Postnatal development indices and the proportion of plasma, liver and brain AA concentrations, although not plasma, liver and brain alpha-tocopherol concentrations, recovered to the values found in dams fed OOD when the FOD was supplemented with gamma-linolenic acid. However, postnatal development indices were not recovered when the FOD was supplemented with sufficient exogenous vitamin E to increase plasma and liver alpha-tocopherol concentrations above those in dams fed OOD. Thus, although feeding FOD during pregnancy and lactation decreases both alpha-tocopherol and AA concentrations, the latter deficiency rather than the former seems to be responsible for delayed postnatal development of rat pups.