Excessive fat intake is a global health concern as women of childbearing age increasingly ingest high fat diets (HFDs). We therefore determined the maternal fatty acid (FA) profiles in metabolic organs after HFD administration during specific periods of gestation. Rats were fed a HFD for the first (HF1), second (HF2), or third (HF3) week, or for all three weeks (HFG) of gestation. Total maternal plasma non-esterified fatty acid (NEFA) concentrations were monitored throughout pregnancy. At day 20 of gestation, maternal plasma, liver, adipose tissue, and placenta FA profiles were determined. In HF3 mothers, plasma myristic and stearic acid concentrations were elevated, whereas docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) was reduced in both HF3 and HFG mothers. In HF3 and HFG mothers, hepatic stearic and oleic acid proportions were elevated; conversely, DHA and linoleic acid (LA) proportions were reduced. In adipose tissue, myristic acid was elevated, whereas DHA and LA proportions were reduced in all mothers. Further, adipose tissue stearic acid proportions were elevated in HF2, HF3, and HFG mothers; with oleic acid increased in HF1 and HFG mothers. In HF3 and HFG mothers, placental neutral myristic acid proportions were elevated, whereas DHA was reduced. Further, placental phospholipid DHA proportions were reduced in HF3 and HFG mothers. Maintenance on a diet, high in saturated fat, but low in DHA and LA proportions, during late or throughout gestation, perpetuated reduced DHA across metabolic organs that adapt during pregnancy. Therefore a diet, with normal DHA proportions during gestation, may be important for balancing maternal FA status.
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