News article

Impact of Docosahexaenoic Acid on placental apoptosis and proliferation

Posted:  Monday, August 08, 2016

Influence of Docosahexaenoic Acid on the placental histology

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an omega-3 fatty acid important for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. Researches on the association of DHA and development of preeclampsia or postpartum depression have been contradictory. A study published in the journal BioMed Research International investigated the effect of DHA supplementation during normal pregnancy on cellular proliferation and apoptosis of the placenta.

The study enrolled 28 pregnant women who were supplemented with fish oil containing 300 mg DHA from the 20th week of pregnancy until delivery (DHA group). Fifty women who were not on such supplements constituted the control group. DHA concentration in the cord blood was determined in all patients. Expression of proteins such as Ki–67 and p21, which are the markers of placental proliferation, was determined in the placenta. DHA concentration and caspase-3 activity as a marker of apoptosis were determined from umbilical cord blood.

Women from the control group had a significantly higher placental weight compared to women from the DHA group. Women supplemented with DHA had significantly lower levels of caspase-3 activity and higher levels of DHA in the umbilical cord blood. The placental expression of the proteins p21 and Ki–67 did not differ significantly between the two groups.

This study has some limitations. The 300-mg dose of DHA used in the study was lower than the current recommendation of 600 mg, and the sample size was too small. However, the study indicated an association between DHA supplementation and inhibition of the apoptotic process in the placenta; this was confirmed by low levels of caspase-3 activity. Additional research is warranted to accurately establish the role of DHA in placenta-related disorders of pregnancy.

News source – Wietrak E, Kamiński K, Leszczyńska-Gorzelak B, Oleszczuk J. Effect of Docosahexaenoic Acid on Apoptosis and Proliferation in the Placenta: Preliminary Report. BioMed research international. 2015 Aug 3; 2015.