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Type: Journal article
Title: Maternal dietary ratio of linoleic acid to alpha-linolenic acid during pregnancy has sex-specific effects on placental and fetal weights in the rat
Author: Draycott, S.A.V.
Liu, G.
Daniel, Z.C.
Elmes, M.J.
Muhlhausler, B.S.
Langley-Evans, S.C.
Citation: Nutrition and Metabolism, 2019; 16(1):1-1-1-12
Publisher: BMC
Issue Date: 2019
ISSN: 1743-7075
Statement of
Sally A. V. Draycott, Ge Liu, Zoe C. Daniel, Matthew J. Elmes, Beverly S. Muhlhausler and Simon C. Langley-Evans
Abstract: Background: Increased consumption of linoleic acid (LA, omega-6) in Western diets coupled with the pro-inflammatory and adipogenic properties of its derivatives has led to suggestions that fetal exposure to this dietary pattern could be contributing to the intergenerational cycle of obesity. Method: This study aimed to evaluate the effects of maternal consumption of a LA to alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) ratio similar to modern Western diets (9:1) compared to a lower ratio (1:1.5) on placental and fetal growth, and to determine any cumulative effects by feeding both diets at two total fat levels (18% vs 36% fat w/w). Female Wistar rats (n = 5-7/group) were assigned to one of the four experimental diets prior to mating until 20d of gestation. Results: Fatty acid profiles of maternal and fetal blood and placental tissue at 20d gestation were different between dietary groups, and largely reflected dietary fatty acid composition. Female fetuses were heavier (2.98 ± 0.06 g vs 3.36 ± 0.07 g, P < 0.01) and male placental weight was increased (0.51 ± 0.02 g vs 0.58 ± 0.02 g, P < 0.05) in the low LA:ALA groups. Female fetuses of dams exposed to a 36% fat diet had a reduced relative liver weight irrespective of LA:ALA ratio (7.61 ± 0.22% vs 6.93 ± 0.19%, P < 0.05). These effects occurred in the absence of any effect of the dietary treatments on maternal bodyweight, fat deposition or expression of key lipogenic genes in maternal and fetal liver or maternal adipose tissue. Conclusion: These findings suggest that both the total fat content as well as the LA:ALA ratio of the maternal diet have sex-specific implications for the growth of the developing fetus.
Keywords: Animal model; Fatty acids; Fetal growth; Maternal nutrition
Rights: © The Author(s). 2019 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
RMID: 0030106393
DOI: 10.1186/s12986-018-0330-7
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Appears in Collections:Agriculture, Food and Wine publications

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