Maternal short and medium chain fatty acids supply during early pregnancy improves embryo survival through enhancing progesterone synthesis in rats

J Nutr Biochem. 2019 Jul:69:98-107. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2019.03.015. Epub 2019 Mar 29.


Exploring strategies to prevent miscarriage in women or early pregnancy loss in mammals is of great importance. Manipulating maternal lipid metabolism to maintain sufficient progesterone level is an effective way. To investigated the embryo loss and progesterone synthesis impacts of short and medium chain fatty acids on the lipid metabolism, pregnancy outcome and embryo implantation were investigated in rats fed the pregnancy diets supplemented without or with 0.1% sodium butyrate (SB), 0.1% sodium hexanoate (SH), or 0.1% sodium caprylate (SC) during the entire pregnancy and early pregnancy, respectively, followed with evaluation of potential mechanisms. Maternal SB, SH, or SC supply significantly improved live litter size and embryo implantation in rats. Serum progesterone, arachidonic acid, and phospholipid metabolites levels were significantly increased in response to maternal SB, SH, and SC supply. The expression of key genes involved in ovarian steroidogenesis and granulosa cell luteinization were elevated in ovaries and primary cultured granulosa cells, including cluster of differentiation 36 (CD36), steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (StAR), and cholesterol side-chain cleavage enzyme (CYP11A1). Additionally, the expression of lysophosphatidic acid receptor 3 (LPA3) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX2) related with phospholipid metabolism were enhanced in uterus in vivo and in in vitro cultured uterine tissue. In conclusion, maternal SB, SH and SC supply reduced early pregnancy loss through modulating maternal phospholipid metabolism and ovarian progesterone synthesis in rats. Our results have important implications that short or medium chain fatty acids have the potential to prevent miscarriage in women or early pregnancy loss in mammals.

Keywords: Early embryo loss; Fatty acids; Lipid metabolomics; Phospholipids; Progesterone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Spontaneous / prevention & control
  • Animals
  • Butyric Acid / pharmacology*
  • Caproates / pharmacology*
  • Caprylates / pharmacology*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Embryo Implantation / drug effects
  • Embryo Implantation / physiology
  • Fatty Acids / blood
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / drug effects
  • Maternal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Ovary / drug effects
  • Ovary / metabolism
  • Phospholipids / genetics
  • Phospholipids / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Progesterone / biosynthesis*
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Caproates
  • Caprylates
  • Fatty Acids
  • Phospholipids
  • Butyric Acid
  • hexanoic acid
  • Progesterone
  • octanoic acid