Feeding long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids during gestation increases intestinal glucose absorption potentially via the acute activation of AMPK

J Nutr Biochem. 2009 Jan;20(1):17-25. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2007.11.009. Epub 2008 May 13.


The current study utilized Ussing chambers to examine the impact of supplementing maternal gestation and/or lactation diets with n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) provided via a protected fish oil (PFO) product on intestinal fatty acid profiles and ex vivo glucose uptake in the jejunum of weanling piglets. Jejunum tissues were enriched with n-3 PUFA as a result of feeding the sows the PFO during gestation and/or lactation (P<.05). Glucose uptake improved by twofold (P<.042) in intestinal preparations obtained from the offspring of sows fed PFO during gestation or throughout gestation/lactation versus lactation alone. This was also reflected in the jejunum protein expressions of glucose transporter 2 (GLUT2) and sodium-dependent glucose transporter 1 (SGLT1). Furthermore, adding docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) or an AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) agonist to the chamber buffer improved glucose uptake (P<.05) in intestinal preparations obtained from the offspring fed the control diet, devoid of the PFO product and containing minimal concentrations of n-3 PUFA. Collectively, these data indicate two important points. First, long-term exposure to n-3 PUFA via the maternal gestation diet effectively enhances glucose uptake in the weanling piglet, and the underlying mechanism may be associated with changes in the intestinal fatty acid profile. Secondly, there is an apparent direct and acute effect of DHA that is achieved within a time frame that precludes substantial changes in the intestinal fatty acid profile. Additionally, both mechanisms may involve activation of AMPK. Thus, n-3 PUFA delivered in utero and postnatally via the maternal diet may help the offspring adapt quickly to rapidly changing diets early in life and allow optimal nutrient uptake.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / pharmacology
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Glucose / pharmacokinetics*
  • Glucose Transporter Type 2 / metabolism
  • Intestinal Absorption / drug effects*
  • Intestine, Small / embryology*
  • Jejunum / embryology
  • Microvilli / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Sodium-Glucose Transporter 1 / metabolism
  • Swine


  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Glucose Transporter Type 2
  • Sodium-Glucose Transporter 1
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases
  • Glucose