The aim of this study was to determine if the dietary pattern of pregnant women has any compensatory effect on the fatty acid desaturase (FADS) gene expression, thus enhancing the conversion of precursors to long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) to spare the overall LCPUFA levels. The dietary intake of plant-based precursor polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) influences circulating levels of LCPUFA. We hypothesized that low LCPUFA diets during pregnancy would compensate by higher expression of FADS genes to enhance the conversion of precursors to LCPUFA to spare the overall LCPUFA levels. Seventy-five pregnant women were enrolled during the last trimester of pregnancy based on the eligibility and exclusion criteria. Maternal LCPUFA in plasma, expression of FADS1 and FADS2 genes, FADS2 Indel genotype status and neonate birth weight were studied.In the vegetarian group (n = 25), plasma α-linolenic acid (ALA) but not linoleic acid (LA) was significantly lower (p < 0.05) than the non-vegetarian group (n = 50). No significant differences were found for arachidonic acid (AA) or docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) levels. FADS1 expression was significantly higher in the vegetarian group compared to the non-vegetarian group. There was no significant difference in the birth weight of the neonates between two groups. No significant correlation was observed between FADS2 Indel genotype and birth weight. Our small sample size study demonstrated an increase FADS1expression during pregnancy in vegetarian pregnant women that may have contributed to the maintenance of AA, eicosapentaenoic acid and DHA levels thereby ensuring that the overall LCPUFA levels of the neonate is not compromised.
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We would like to thank Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi and Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (Grant No. R03HD052138) for supporting the work. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the ICMR. We thank Sushant Shengule and Tejas Shah for assistance with the gene expression data analysis. We would also like to thank Ruchi Joshi and Akshaya Malpani for technical assistance.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
The study protocol was approved by the Ethics committee and written consent was obtained from all participants before enrolment.
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