Research Article| Volume 85, ISSUE 6, P387-397, December 2011

Postdelivery changes in maternal and infant erythrocyte fatty acids in 3 populations differing in fresh water fish intakes

Published:September 14, 2011DOI:



      Long-chain polyunsaturated (LCP) fatty acids (FA) are important during infant development. Mother-to-infant FA-transport occurs at the expense of the maternal status. Maternal and infant FA-status change rapidly after delivery.


      Comparison of maternal (mRBC) and infant erythrocyte (iRBC)-FA-profiles at delivery and after 3 months exclusive breastfeeding in relation to freshwater-fish intakes. Approximation of de-novo-lipogenesis (DNL), stearoyl-CoA-desaturase (SCD), elongation-of-very-long-chain-FA-family-member-6 (Elovl-6), delta-5-desaturase (D5D) and delta-6-desaturase (D6D)-enzymatic activities from their product/essential-FA and product/substrate-ratios.

      Results and discussion

      Increasing iRBC-14:0 derived from mammary-gland DNL. Decreasing mRBC-ω9, but increasing iRBC-ω9, suggest high ω9-FA-transfer via breastmilk. Decreasing (m+i)RBC-16:0, DNL- and SCD-activities, but increasing (m+i)RBC-18:0 and Elovl-6-activity suggest more pronounced postpartum decreases in DNL- and SCD-activities, compared to Elovl-6-activity. Increasing (m+i)RBC-18:3ω3, 20:5ω3, 22:5ω3, 18:2ω6, mRBC-20:4ω6 and (m+i)D5D-activity, but decreasing mRBC-22:6ω3 and (m+i)D6D-activity and dose-dependent changes in iRBC-22:6ω3 confirm that D6D-activity is rate-limiting and 22:6ω3 is important during lactation. Fish-intake related magnitudes of postpartum FA-changes suggest that LCPω3 influence DNL-, SCD- and desaturase-activities.


      AA (arachidonic acid), ACC (acetyl-Coenzyme A carboxylase), ALA (α-linolenic acid), ChREBP (carbohydrate responsive element binding protein), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), DNL (de novo lipid synthesis or de novo lipogenesis), EFA (essential fatty acids), Elovl-6 (elongation of very long chained fatty acids family member 6), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), FA (fatty acids), FADS (fatty acid desaturase), FAS (fatty acid synthase), LA (linoleic acid), LXR (liver-X-receptor), MUFA (monounsaturated fatty acids), RBC (erythrocyte), PP (postpartum), PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acids), SAFA (saturated fatty acids), SCD-1 (stearoyl-coenzyme A desaturase family member 1), SREBP-1 (sterol regulatory element binding protein-1), VLDL (very low density lipoprotein.)


      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • Muskiet F.A.
        Pathophysiology and evolutionary aspects of dietary fats and long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids across the life cycle.
        in: Montmayeur J.P. le Coutre J. Fat Detection, Taste, Texture, and Post-Ingestive Effects. CRC Press Taylor & Francis Group, Boca Raton, USA2010: 19-79
        • Makrides M.
        • Neumann M.A.
        • Byard R.W.
        • Simmer K.
        • Gibson R.A.
        Fatty acid composition of brain, retina, and erythrocytes in breast- and formula-fed infants.
        American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1994; 60: 189-194
        • Martinez M.
        Tissue levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids during early human development.
        The Journal of Pediatrics. 1992; 120: S129-S138
        • Crawford M.A.
        • Hassam A.G.
        • Williams G.
        • Whitehouse W.L.
        Essential fatty-acids and fetal brain growth.
        Lancet. 1976; 1: 452-453
        • Dijck-Brouwer D.A.J.
        • Hadders-Algra M.
        • Bouwstra H.
        • et al.
        Impaired maternal glucose homeostasis during pregnancy is associated with low status of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCP) and essential fatty acids (EFA) in the fetus.
        Prostaglandins Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids. 2005; 73: 85-87
        • Huiskes V.J.B.
        • Kuipers R.S.
        • Velzing-Aarts F.V.
        • Dijck-Brouwer D.A.J.
        • van der Meulen J.
        • Muskiet F.A.J.
        Higher de novo synthesized fatty acids and lower omega 3-and omega 6-long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in umbilical vessels of women with preeclampsia and high fish intakes.
        Prostaglandins Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids. 2009; 80: 101-106
        • Schwarz J.M.
        • Linfoot P.
        • Dare D.
        • Aghajanian K.
        Hepatic de novo lipogenesis in normoinsulinemic and hyperinsulinemic subjects consuming high-fat, low-carbohydrate and low-fat, high-carbohydrate isoenergetic diets.
        American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2003; 77: 43-50
        • Donnelly K.L.
        • Smith C.I.
        • Schwarzenberg S.J.
        • Jessurun J.
        • Boldt M.D.
        • Parks E.J.
        Sources of fatty acids stored in liver and secreted via lipoproteins in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
        Journal of Clinical Investigation. 2005; 115: 1343-1351
        • Das U.N.
        A defect in the activity of Delta(6) and Delta(5) desaturases may be a factor predisposing to the development of insulin resistance syndrome.
        Prostaglandins Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids. 2005; 72: 343-350
        • Flowers M.T.
        • Ntambi J.M.
        Stearoyl-CoA desaturase and its relation to high-carbohydrate diets and obesity.
        Biochimica et Biophysica Acta. 2009; 1791: 85-91
        • Jump D.B.
        N-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid regulation of hepatic gene transcription.
        Current Opinion in Lipidology. 2008; 19: 242-247
        • Matsuzaka T.
        • Shimano H.
        Elovl6: a new player in fatty acid metabqolism and insulin sensitivity.
        Journal of Molecular Medicine. 2009; 87: 379-384
        • Brenner R.R.
        Hormonal modulation of Delta 6 and Delta 5 desaturases: case of diabetes.
        Prostaglandins Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids. 2003; 68: 151-162
        • Sampath H.
        • Ntambi J.M.
        The fate and intermediary metabolism of stearic acid.
        Lipids. 2005; 40: 1187-1191
        • Paton C.M.
        • Ntambi J.M.
        Biochemical and physiological function of stearoyl-CoA desaturase.
        American Journal of Physiology—Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2009; 297: E28-E37
        • Vessby B.
        • Gustafsson I.B.
        • Tengblad S.
        • Boberg M.
        • Andersson A.
        Desaturation and elongation of fatty acids and insulin action.
        Lipids and Insulin Resistance: The Role of Fatty Acid Metabolism and Fuel Partitioning. 2002; 967: 183-195
        • Kuipers R.S.
        • Luxwolda M.F.
        • Sango W.S.
        • Kwesigabo G.
        • jck-Brouwer D.A.
        • Muskiet F.A.
        Maternal DHA equilibrium during pregnancy and lactation is reached at an erythrocyte DHA content of 8 g/100 g fatty acids.
        Journal of Nutrition. 2011; 141: 418-427
        • Makrides M.
        • Neumann M.A.
        • Gibson R.A.
        Effect of maternal docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplementation on breast milk composition.
        European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1996; 50: 352-357
        • Vlaardingerbroek H.
        • Hornstra G.
        Essential fatty acids in erythrocyte phospholipids during pregnancy and at delivery in mothers and their neonates: comparison with plasma phospholipids.
        Prostaglandins Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids. 2004; 71: 363-374
        • Hadden D.R.
        • McLaughlin C.
        Normal and abnormal maternal metabolism during pregnancy.
        Seminars in Fetal and Neonatal Medicine. 2009; 14: 66-71
        • Montelongo A.
        • Lasuncion M.A.
        • Pallardo L.F.
        • Herrera E.
        Longitudinal study of plasma lipoproteins and hormones during pregnancy in normal and diabetic women.
        Diabetes. 1992; 41: 1651-1659
        • Ryan E.A.
        • O'Sullivan M.J.
        • Skyler J.S.
        Insulin action during pregnancy.
        Studies With the Euglycemic Clamp Technique. Diabetes. 1985; 34: 380-389
        • Kuipers R.S.
        • Smit E.N.
        • van der Meulen J.
        • Janneke Dijck-Brouwer D.A.
        • Rudy Boersma E.
        • Muskiet F.A.
        Milk in the island of Chole (Tanzania) is high in lauric, myristic, arachidonic and docosahexaenoic acids, and low in linoleic acid reconstructed diet of infants born to our ancestors living in tropical coastal regions.
        Prostaglandins Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids. 2007; 76: 221-233
        • Muskiet F.A.
        • van Doormaal J.J.
        • Martini I.A.
        • Wolthers B.G.
        • van der Slik W.
        Capillary gas chromatographic profiling of total long-chain fatty acids and cholesterol in biological materials.
        Journal of Chromatography. 1983; 278: 231-244
        • Attie A.D.
        • Krauss R.M.
        • Gray-Keller M.P.
        • et al.
        Relationship between stearoyl-CoA desaturase activity and plasma triglycerides in human and mouse hypertriglyceridemia.
        Journal of Lipid Research. 2002; 43: 1899-1907
        • Chong M.F.
        • Hodson L.
        • Bickerton A.S.
        • et al.
        Parallel activation of de novo lipogenesis and stearoyl-CoA desaturase activity after 3 d of high-carbohydrate feeding.
        American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2008; 87: 817-823
        • Corpeleijn E.
        • Feskens E.J.
        • Jansen E.H.
        • et al.
        Improvements in glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity after lifestyle intervention are related to changes in serum fatty acid profile and desaturase activities: the SLIM study.
        Diabetologia. 2006; 49: 2392-2401
        • Sjogren P.
        • Sierra-Johnson J.
        • Gertow K.
        • et al.
        Fatty acid desaturases in human adipose tissue: relationships between gene expression, desaturation indexes and insulin resistance.
        Diabetologia. 2008; 51: 328-335
        • Warensjo E.
        • Riserus U.
        • Vessby B.
        Fatty acid composition of serum lipids predicts the development of the metabolic syndrome in men.
        Diabetologia. 2005; 48: 1999-2005
        • Zhou Y.E.
        • Egeland G.M.
        • Meltzer S.J.
        • Kubow S.
        The association of desaturase 9 and plasma fatty acid composition with insulin resistance-associated factors in female adolescents.
        Metabolism. 2009; 58: 158-166
        • Ghebremeskel K.
        • Min Y.
        • Crawford M.A.
        • et al.
        Blood fatty acid composition of pregnant and nonpregnant Korean women: red cells may act as a reservoir of arachidonic acid and docosahexaenoic acid for utilization by the developing fetus.
        Lipids. 2000; 35: 567-574
        • Holman R.T.
        • Johnson S.B.
        • Ogburn P.L.
        Deficiency of essential fatty acids and membrane fluidity during pregnancy and lactation.
        The Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences U S A. 1991; 88: 4835-4839
        • Hornstra G.
        Essential fatty acids during pregnancy, impact on mother and child.
        Nestle Nutrition Workshop Series Pediatric Programme. 2005; 55: 83-96
        • Otto S.J.
        • van Houwelingen A.C.
        • Badart-Smook A.
        • Hornstra G.
        Comparison of the peripartum and postpartum phospholipid polyunsaturated fatty acid profiles of lactating and nonlactating women.
        American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2001; 73: 1074-1079
        • Clandinin M.T.
        • Van Aerde J.E.
        • Parrott A.
        • Field C.J.
        • Euler A.R.
        • Lien E.L.
        Assessment of the efficacious dose of arachidonic and docosahexaenoic acids in preterm infant formulas: fatty acid composition of erythrocyte membrane lipids.
        Pediatric Research. 1997; 42: 819-825
        • Ghebremeskel K.
        • Leighfield M.
        • Leaf A.
        • Costeloe K.
        • Crawford M.
        Fatty acid composition of plasma and red cell phospholipids of preterm babies fed on breast milk and formulae.
        European Journal of Pediatrics. 1995; 154: 46-52
        • Maurage C.
        • Guesnet P.
        • Pinault M.
        • et al.
        Effect of two types of fish oil supplementation on plasma and erythrocyte phospholipids in formula-fed term infants.
        Biology of the Neonate. 1998; 74: 416-429
        • Peng Y.M.
        • Zhang T.Y.
        • Wang Q.
        • Zetterstrom R.
        • Strandvik B.
        Fatty acid composition in breast milk and serum phospholipids of healthy term Chinese infants during first 6 weeks of life.
        Acta Paediatrica. 2007; 96: 1640-1645
        • Hachey D.L.
        • Silber G.H.
        • Wong W.W.
        • Garza C.
        Human lactation. II: endogenous fatty acid synthesis by the mammary gland.
        Pediatric Research. 1989; 25: 63-68
        • Hamosh M.
        Lipid metabolism in premature infants.
        Biology of the Neonate. 1987; 52: 50-64
        • Emken E.A.
        • Adlof R.O.
        • Hachey D.L.
        • Garza C.
        • Thomas M.R.
        • Brownbooth L.
        Incorporation of Deuterium-Labeled Fatty-Acids Into Human-Milk, Plasma, and Lipoprotein Phospholipids and Cholesteryl Esters.
        Journal of Lipid Research. 1989; 30: 395-402
        • Thompson B.J.
        • Smith S.
        Biosynthesis of fatty acids by lactating human breast epithelial cells: an evaluation of the contribution to the overall composition of human milk fat.
        Pediatric Research. 1985; 19: 139-143
        • Van Aerde J.E.
        • Feldman M.
        • Clandinin M.T.
        Accretion of lipid in the fetus and the newborn.
        in: Polin R.A. Fox W.W. Fetal and Neonatal Physiology. W.B. Saunders Co., Philadelphia1998: 458-477
        • Kuipers R.S.
        • Luxwolda M.F.
        • Sango W.S.
        • et al.
        Postpartum changes in maternal and infant erythrocyte fatty acids are likely to be driven by restoring insulin sensitivity and DHA status.
        Medical Hypotheses. 2011; 76: 794-801
        • Carpentier Y.A.
        • Portois L.
        • Malaisse W.J.
        n-3 fatty acids and the metabolic syndrome.
        American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2006; 83: 1499S-1504SS
        • Hartweg J.
        • Perera R.
        • Montori V.
        • Dinneen S.
        • Neil H.A.
        • Farmer A.
        Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) for type 2 diabetes mellitus.
        Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2008; : CD003205
        • Herrera E.
        Metabolic adaptations in pregnancy and their implications for the availability of substrates to the fetus.
        European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2000; 54: S47-S51
        • Vela-Huerta M.M.
        • Vicente-Santoscoy E.U.
        • Guizar-Mendoza J.M.
        • Amador-Licona N.
        • Aldana-Valenzuela C.
        • Leptin Hernnandez J.
        insulin, and glucose serum levels in large-for-gestational-age infants of diabetic and non-diabetic mothers.
        Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2008; 21: 17-22
        • Schaeffer L.
        • Gohlke H.
        • Muller M.
        • et al.
        Common genetic variants of the FADS1 FADS2 gene cluster and their reconstructed haplotypes are associated with the fatty acid composition in phospholipids.
        Human Molecular Genetics. 2006; 15: 1745-1756
        • Crawford M.
        Placental delivery of arachidonic and docosahexaenoic acids: implications for the lipid nutrition of preterm infants.
        American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2000; 71: 275S-284SS
        • Haggarty P.
        Placental regulation of fatty acid delivery and its effect on fetal growth—a review.
        Placenta. 2002; 23: S28-S38
        • Kuhn D.C.
        • Crawford M.
        Placental essential fatty acid transport and prostaglandin synthesis.
        Progress in Lipid Research. 1986; 25: 345-353
        • Neerhout R.C.
        Erythrocyte lipids in the neonate.
        Pediatric Research. 1968; 2: 172-178
        • Bondia-Martinez E.
        • Lopez-Sabater M.C.
        • Castellote-Bargallo A.I.
        • et al.
        Fatty acid composition of plasma and erythrocytes in term infants fed human milk and formulae with and without docosahexaenoic and arachidonic acids from egg yolk lecithin.
        Early Human Development. 1998; 53: S109-S119
        • Chirouze V.
        • Lapillonne A.
        • Putet G.
        • Salle B.L.
        Red blood cell fatty acid composition in low-birth-weight infants fed either human milk or formula during the first months of life.
        Acta Paediatrica Supplement. 1994; 405: 70-77
        • Lapillonne A.
        • Brossard N.
        • Claris O.
        • Reygrobellet B.
        • Salle B.L.
        Erythrocyte fatty acid composition in term infants fed human milk or a formula enriched with a low eicosapentanoic acid fish oil for 4 months.
        European Journal of Pediatrics. 2000; 159: 49-53
        • Makrides M.
        • Neumann M.A.
        • Simmer K.
        • Gibson R.A.
        Erythrocyte fatty acids of term infants fed either breast milk, standard formula, or formula supplemented with long-chain polyunsaturates.
        Lipids. 1995; 30: 941-948
        • Pugo-Gunsam P.
        • Guesnet P.
        • Subratty A.H.
        • Rajcoomar D.A.
        • Maurage C.
        • Couet C.
        Fatty acid composition of white adipose tissue and breast milk of Mauritian and French mothers and erythrocyte phospholipids of their full-term breast-fed infants.
        British Journal of Nutrition. 1999; 82: 263-271
        • van Goor S.A.
        • Dijck-Brouwer D.A.
        • Hadders-Algra M.
        • et al.
        Human milk arachidonic acid and docosahexaenoic acid contents increase following supplementation during pregnancy and lactation.
        Prostaglandins Leukotrines and Essential Fatty Acids. 2009; 80: 65-69
        • Sun Q.
        • Ma J.
        • Campos H.
        • Hankinson S.E.
        • Hu F.B.
        Comparison between plasma and erythrocyte fatty acid content as biomarkers of fatty acid intake in US women.
        American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2007; 86: 74-81