Adolescent pregnancy increases risk of adverse perinatal outcomes. Placental delivery of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) is essential for fetal growth and development. In this pilot study, we aimed to assess maternal and fetal status of fatty acids (FA) measured at birth and the expression of key genes involved in FA uptake, transport and metabolism in the placenta of fifteen adolescents and fifteen adults. FA were quantified by gas-liquid chromatography. Placental expression of FA transporters was assessed by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ) was quantified by Western Blot. Adolescents had lower docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6 n-3) and total n-3 FA levels in maternal erythrocytes and placenta, but these were not different in fetal erythrocytes. Arachidonic acid (AA, 20:4 n-6) concentration was increased in placenta but lower in fetal circulation. Plasma membrane fatty acid binding protein (FABPpm) and fatty acid transport protein (FATP) 4 mRNA expressions were not different, however FATP1, fatty acid translocase (FAT/CD36) and fatty acid binding protein 3 (FABP3) mRNA and PPARγ protein levels were decreased in placenta of adolescents. Despite significant downregulation of FATP1, CD36 and FABP3, there was only a modest decrease in LCPUFA (10%) and AA (12%) and no difference in DHA content in cord blood, suggesting that FA transfer to the fetus was partially protected by other factors in adolescents from this cohort.
Keywords: : polyunsaturated fatty acids; adolescents; fatty acid transport protein; newborns; placenta; umbilical cord.