Fatty acids (FAs) are fundamental for a foetus's growth, serving as an energy source, structural constituents of cellular membranes and precursors of bioactive molecules, as well as being essential for cell signalling. Long-chain polyunsaturated FAs (LC-PUFAs) are pivotal in brain and visual development. It is of interest to investigate whether and how specific pregnancy conditions, which alter fatty acid metabolism (excessive pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI) or gestational weight gain (GWG)), affect lipid supply to the foetus. For this purpose, we evaluated the erythrocyte FAs of mothers and offspring (cord-blood) at birth, in relation to pre-pregnancy BMI and GWG. A total of 435 mothers and their offspring (237 males, 51%) were included in the study. Distribution of linoleic acid (LA) and α-linolenic acid (ALA), and their metabolites, arachidonic acid, dihomogamma linoleic (DGLA) and ecosapentanoic acid, was significantly different in maternal and foetal erythrocytes. Pre-pregnancy BMI was significantly associated with maternal percentage of MUFAs (Coeff: -0.112; p = 0.021), LA (Coeff: -0.033; p = 0.044) and DHA (Coeff. = 0.055; p = 0.0016); inadequate GWG with DPA (Coeff: 0.637; p = 0.001); excessive GWG with docosaexahenoic acid (DHA) (Coeff. = -0.714; p = 0.004). Moreover, pre-pregnancy BMI was associated with foetus percentage of PUFAs (Coeff: -0.172; p = 0.009), omega 6 (Coeff: -0.098; p = 0.015) and DHA (Coeff: -0.0285; p = 0.036), even after adjusting for maternal lipids. Our findings show that maternal GWG affects maternal but not foetal lipid profile, differently from pre-pregnancy BMI, which influences both.
Keywords: bioattenuation; biomagnification; fatty acids; gestational diabetes; gestational weight gain; obesity; pregnancy.