Foetal cord blood contains higher portions of n-3 and n-6 long-chain PUFA but lower portions of trans C18:1 isomers than maternal blood

  • Wiebke Schlörmann Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena
  • Ronny Kramer Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena
  • Alfred Lochner Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena
  • Carsten Rohrer Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena
  • Ekkehard Schleussner Jena University Hospital, Placenta Laboratory
  • Gerhard Jahreis Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena
  • Katrin Kuhnt Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena
Keywords: conjugated linoleic acids, pregnancy, trans fatty acids, elaidic acid, vaccenic acid, ruminant fat, omega-3 fatty acids


Background/objective: An adequate supply of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC PUFA) promotes foetal health and development, whereas generally, trans fatty acids (tFA) are considered to negatively interfere with LC PUFA metabolism. Nevertheless, to date, limited data concerning separate trans C18:1, such as t9 and t11, are available for maternal and foetal blood. Therefore, in this study the portions of individual trans C18:1, LC n-6, and n-3 PUFA in lipids of maternal and foetal plasma and erythrocyte membranes of German mother and child pairs (n=40) were analysed.

Results: Portions of linoleic acid and α-linolenic acid as LC precursors were lower (~0.4-fold); whereas the metabolites arachidonic acid (AA, n-6) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, n-3) were significantly higher (~2-fold) in foetal than in maternal plasma and erythrocytes. The main tFA in maternal and foetal blood were elaidic acid (C18:1t9; t9) and vaccenic acid (C18:1t11; t11). Portions of t9, t10, t11, and t12 in foetal blood lipids were lower (~0.5-fold) compared with maternal blood. In foetal lipids, t9 was higher than t11. The t9 correlated negatively with eicosapentaenoic acid (n-3) and AA in maternal and foetal lipids; whereas t11 correlated negatively only with foetal total LC n-6 (plasma and erythrocytes) and n-3 PUFA (erythrocytes). No correlation between maternal tFA and foetal PUFA was observed.

Conclusions: ‘Biomagnification’ of LC n-6 and n-3 PUFA AA and DHA in foetal blood was confirmed, whereas single trans isomers were lower compared with maternal blood. Nevertheless, tFA intake, especially from industrial sources, should be as low as possible.

Keywords: conjugated linoleic acids; pregnancy; trans fatty acids; elaidic acid; vaccenic acid; ruminant fat; omega-3 fatty acids

(Published: 27 November 2015)

Citation: Food & Nutrition Research 2015, 59: 29348 -


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How to Cite
Schlörmann, W., Kramer, R., Lochner, A., Rohrer, C., Schleussner, E., Jahreis, G., & Kuhnt, K. (2015). Foetal cord blood contains higher portions of n-3 and n-6 long-chain PUFA but lower portions of <em>trans</em&gt; C18:1 isomers than maternal blood. Food & Nutrition Research, 59.
Original Articles