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DHA-rich n-3 PUFAs intake from the early- and mid-pregnancy decreases the weight gain by affecting the DNA methylation status among Chinese Han infants

Ping Li, Xiaoyu Chen, Yuhui Chen, Tianyi Teng, Xiuqin Fan, Tiantian Tang, Rui Wang, Yurong Zhao, Kemin Qi

Abstract:Background: Maternal exogenous docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)-rich n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) intake during the pregnancy, especially DHA, has inconsistent effects on reducing the fat storage of the infants in different clinical studies. Objectives: We sought to determine the effects of maternal exogenous DHA-rich n-3 PUFAs capsule intake from the different pregnancy periods on the weight gain of their infants through modifying the DNA methylation status of obesity-associated genes in the umbilical cord blood. Design: A prospective 3-year follow-up study after the pregnancy was enrolled in this cohort from May to October 2016. They were divided into different groups according to the initial time of exogenous DHA capsule intake through the questionnaires (S1 – early trimester, S2 – mid-trimester, S3 – late trimester, and control – without). The concentrations and compositions of DHA were determined by gas chromatography. We applied quantitative DNA methylation states of the obesity-associated genes in the umbilical cord blood. The growth outcomes and relevant Z-scores were recorded at birth and 1 and 2 years. The correlations between DNA methylation status of the obesity-associated genes with the consents of DNA and body mass index (BMI) values were investigated as the measures. Results: In total, 205 pregnant women and their infants were eligible for this follow-up study. The concentrations and compositions of DHA in the colostrum and umbilical cord blood were higher in the S1 and S2 groups than those in the control and S3 groups as well as the decreased weight, BMI, weight for age Z-score (WAZ) and BMI for age Z-score (BMI Z) at birth and 1 and/or 2 years, and higher levels of global DNA methylation and many CpG sites in the obesity-associated genes, such as CpG2, CpG9, CpG11, and CpG16 of PPAR-γ; CpG2,3, CpG4-6, CpG8, CpG9,10, CpG11, CpG15,16, and average of CCAAT/enhancer binding protein α (C/EBP-α); CpG1 and average of adiponectin; CpG1, CpG2, CpG3, CpG5, CpG6, CpG7, and average of insulin-like growth factor 2 (IGF-2); CpG6, CpG7, CpG9, CpG16, CpG23, and CpG24 of leptin, which were more obvious in the S1 group when compared with those in the S2 group. These above hypermethylation levels of CpG sites were negatively correlated with the BMI and positively related with the changes of DHA in the colostrum and umbilical cord blood. Conclusions: Maternal exogenous DHA-rich n-3 PUFAs intake from early- and mid- trimesters of the pregnancy may avoid the development of obesity among Chinese Han infants until 2 years by modulating DNA methylation states of obesity-associated genes, which could provide attractive targets for prenatal prevention of the metabolic disorders.
Keywords: obesity / metabolic disorders / maternal exogenous DHA / exogenous DHA rich / umbilical cord blood

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