n-6 and n-3 Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in the erythrocyte membrane of Brazilian preterm and term neonates and their mothers at delivery.Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids 2006; 74(2):117-23PL
Placental transfer of the long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) arachidonic (AA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) acids is selectively high to maintain accretion to fetal tissues, especially the brain. The objectives of the present study were to investigate the essential fatty acid (EFA) and LCPUFA status at birth of preterm and term Brazilian infants and their mothers, from a population of characteristically low intake of n-3 LCPUFA, and to evaluate the association between fetal and maternal status, by the determination of the fatty acid composition of the erythrocyte membrane. Blood samples from umbilical cord of preterm (26-36 weeks of gestation; n = 30) and term (37-42 weeks of gestation; n = 30) infants and the corresponding maternal venous blood were collected at delivery. The LCPUFA composition of the erythrocyte membrane and DHA status were similar for mothers of preterm and term infants. Neonatal AA was higher (P < 0.01) whereas its precursor 18:2n-6 was lower (P < 0.01) than maternal levels, as expected. There was no difference in LCPUFA erythrocyte composition between preterm and term infants, except for DHA. Term infants presented a worse DHA status than preterm infants (P < 0.01) and than their mothers (P < 0.01) at delivery. There was a negative correlation of neonatal DHA with maternal AA and a positive correlation between neonatal AA and maternal AA and 18:2n-6 only at term. These results suggest that the persistent low DHA maternal status, together with the comparatively better AA and 18:2n-6 status, might have affected maternal-fetal transfer of DHA when gestation was completed up to term, and possibly contributed to the worse DHA status of term neonates compared with the preterm neonates.