Genetic and epigenetic transgenerational implications related to omega-3 fatty acids. Part I: maternal FADS2 genotype and DNA methylation correlate with polyunsaturated fatty acid status in toddlers: an exploratory analysis

Nutr Res. 2015 Nov;35(11):939-47. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2015.09.004. Epub 2015 Sep 10.


Polyunsaturated fatty acid metabolism in toddlers is regulated by a complex network of interacting factors. The contribution of maternal genetic and epigenetic makeup to this milieu is not well understood. In a cohort of mothers and toddlers 16 months of age (n = 65 mother-child pairs), we investigated the association between maternal genetic and epigenetic fatty acid desaturase 2 (FADS2) profiles and toddlers' n-6 and n-3 fatty acid metabolism. FADS2 rs174575 variation and DNA methylation status were interrogated in mothers and toddlers, as well as food intake and plasma fatty acid concentrations in toddlers. A multivariate fit model indicated that maternal rs174575 genotype, combined with DNA methylation, can predict α-linolenic acid plasma concentration in all toddlers and arachidonic acid concentrations in boys. Arachidonic acid intake was predictive for its plasma concentration in girls, whereas intake of 3 major n-3 species (eicosapentaenoic, docosapentaenoic, and docosahexaenoic acids) were predictive for their plasma concentrations in boys. FADS2 genotype and DNA methylation in toddlers were not related to plasma concentrations or food intakes, except for CpG8 methylation. Maternal FADS2 methylation was a predictor for the boys' α-linolenic acid intakes. This exploratory study suggests that maternal FADS2 genetic and epigenetic status could be related to toddlers' polyunsaturated fatty acid metabolism.

Trial registration: NCT01634776.

Keywords: DNA methylation; Dietary intakes; FADS2; Nutrigenomics; Polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • DNA Methylation / genetics*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / genetics*
  • Fatty Acid Desaturases / genetics*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / genetics*
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / genetics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Mothers*


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Fatty Acid Desaturases
  • FADS2 protein, human

Associated data