New generation lipid emulsions increase brain DHA and improve body composition, but not short-term neurodevelopment in parenterally-fed preterm piglets

Brain Behav Immun. 2020 Mar;85:46-56. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2019.04.031. Epub 2019 Apr 24.


New generation, multicomponent parenteral lipid emulsions provide key fatty acids for brain growth and development, such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (AA), yet the content may be suboptimal for preterm infants. Our aim was to test whether DHA and AA-enriched lipid emulsions would increase activity, growth, and neurodevelopment in preterm piglets and limit brain inflammation. Cesarean-delivered preterm pigs were given three weeks of either enteral preterm infant formula (ENT) or TPN with one of three parenteral lipid emulsions: Intralipid (IL), SMOFlipid (SMOF) or an experimental emulsion (EXP). Activity was continuously monitored and weekly blood sampling and behavioral field testing performed. At termination of the study, whole body and tissue metrics were collected. Neuronal density was assessed in sections of hippocampus (HC), thalamus, and cortex. Frontal cortex (FC) and HC tissue were assayed for fatty acid profiles and expression of genes of neuronal growth and inflammation. After 3 weeks of treatment, brain DHA content in SMOF, EXP and ENT pigs was higher (P < 0.01) in FC but not HC vs. IL pigs. There were no differences in brain weight or neuron density among treatment groups. Inflammatory cytokine TNFα and IL-1β expression in brain regions were increased in IL pigs (P < 0.05) compared to other groups. Overall growth velocity was similar among groups, but IL pigs had higher percent body fat and increased insulin resistance compared to other treatments (P < 0.05). ENT pigs spent more time in higher physical activity levels compared to all TPN groups, but there were no differences in exploratory behavior among groups. We conclude that a soybean oil emulsion increased select brain inflammatory cytokines and multicomponent lipid emulsions enriched with DHA and AA in parenteral lipids results in increased cortical DHA and improved body composition without affecting short term neurodevelopmental outcomes.

Keywords: DHA; LC-PUFA; Neurodevelopment; Nutrition; Omega-3 fatty acid; Preterm infant; SMOFlipid.