Beneficial effects of maternal dietary omega-3 fatty acids on placental growth and fuction

Megan Jones

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

    464 Downloads (Pure)

    Abstract

    The developing fetus requires substantial amounts of fatty acids to support rapid cellular growth and activity, and among these the omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are crucial. Maternal dietary supplementation with n-3 PUFAs during pregnancy has been shown to increase gestation length and reduce the risk of pregnancy complications, although the precise mechanisms governing these effects remain uncertain. Omega-3 PUFAs are involved in several physiological pathways which could account for these effects, including anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory and pro-resolving pathways. Because several placental disorders are associated with heightened placental oxidative stress and inflammation, there is considerable interest in the therapeutic potential of dietary n-3 PUFAs. Therefore, the overall aim of this thesis was to investigate the impact of maternal dietary supplementation with n-3 PUFAs on placental growth and function, particularly in relation to oxidative and inflammatory status, in the rat.

    Placental oxidative stress plays a key role in the pathophysiology of several placental-related disorders, including intrauterine growth restriction and preeclampsia. Oxidative stress occurs when accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) damages DNA, proteins and lipids, an outcome normally limited by antioxidant defences. Omega-3 PUFAs have been shown to exert anti-oxidative effects in several tissues. As such, the initial study presented in this thesis tested the hypothesis that n-3 PUFA dietary supplementation would reduce placental oxidative damage, and consequently enhance fetal and placental growth. In addition, whether diet-induced changes in maternal plasma fatty acid profiles were associated with comparable changes in placental and fetal tissues was investigated. Rats were fed either a standard (Std) or high n-3 PUFA (Hn3) semipure diet from day 1 of pregnancy, and tissues collected on days 17 or 22 (term = day 23).
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2014

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