Maternal dietary omega-3 fatty acids and placental function

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97 Citations (Scopus)


The developing fetus requires substantial amounts of fatty acids to support rapid cellular growth and activity. Although the fatty acid composition delivered to the fetus is largely determined by maternal circulating levels, the placenta preferentially transfers physiologically important long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs), particularly omega-3 (n-3) PUFAs. Maternal dietary supplementation with n-3 PUFAs during pregnancy has been shown to increase gestation length, enhance fetal growth, 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-inflammatory, pro-resolving, and anti-oxidative pathways. Recent studies have shown that maternal dietary n-3 PUFA supplementation during rat pregnancy can reduce placental oxidative damage and increase placental levels of pro-resolving mediators, effects associated with enhanced fetal and placental growth. Because several placental disorders, such as intrauterine growth restriction, preeclampsia, and gestational diabetes mellitus, are associated with heightened placental inflammation and oxidative stress, there is considerable interest in the potential for dietary n-3 PUFAs as a therapeutic intervention for these disorders. In this study, we review the impact of dietary n-3 PUFAs on placental function, with particular focus on placental inflammation, inflammatory resolution, and oxidative stress. © 2014 Society for Reproduction and Fertility.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)R143-R152
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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