Omega-6:Omega-3 fatty acid ratio and total fat content of the maternal diet alter offspring growth and fat deposition in the rat

Sally A.V. Draycott, Matthew J. Elmes, Beverly S. Muhlhausler, Simon Langley-Evans

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) have been shown to inhibit lipogenesis and adipogenesis in adult rats. Their possible early life effects on offspring fat deposition, however, remain to be established. To investigate this, female Wistar rats (n = 6–9 per group) were fed either a 9:1 ratio of linoleic acid (LA) to alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) or a lower 1:1.5 ratio during pregnancy and lactation. Each ratio was fed at two total fat levels (18% vs. 36% fat w/w) and offspring were weaned onto standard laboratory chow. Offspring exposed to a 36% fat diet, irrespective of maternal dietary LA:ALA ratio, were lighter (male, 27 g lighter; female 19 g lighter; p < 0.0001) than those exposed to an 18% fat diet between 3 and 8 weeks of age. Offspring exposed to a low LA (18% fat) diet had higher proportions of circulating omega-3 LCPUFA and increased gonadal fat mass at 4 weeks of age (p < 0.05). Reduced Srebf1 mRNA expression of hepatic (p < 0.01), gonadal fat (p < 0.05) and retroperitoneal fat (p < 0.05) tissue was observed at 4 weeks of age in male and female offspring exposed to a 36% fat diet, and hepatic Srebf1 mRNA was also reduced in male offspring at 8 weeks of age (p < 0.05). Thus, while offspring fat deposition appeared to be sensitive to both maternal dietary LA:ALA ratio and total fat content, offspring growth and lipogenic capacity of tissues appeared to be more sensitive to maternal dietary fat content.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2505
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Fatty acids
  • Lipogenesis
  • Maternal nutrition
  • Obesity
  • Omega-3
  • Omega-6
  • Pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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