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Placental MFSD2A expression in fetal growth restriction and maternal and fetal DHA status.

Placenta 2024 April 4
INTRODUCTION: Fetal growth restriction (FGR) may affect placental transfer of key nutrients to the fetus, such as the fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Major facilitator superfamily domain containing 2A (MFSD2A) has been described as a specific DHA carrier in placenta, but its expression has not been studied in FGR. The aim of this study was to evaluate for the first time the placental MFSD2A levels in late-FGR pregnancies and the maternal and cord plasma DHA.

METHODS: 87 pregnant women from a tertial reference center were classified into late-FGR (N = 18) or control (N = 69). Fatty acid profile was determined in maternal and cord venous plasma, as well as placental levels of MFSD2A and of insulin mediators like phospho-protein kinase B (phospho-AKT) and phospho-extracellular regulated kinase (phospho-ERK).

RESULTS: Maternal fatty acid profile did not differ between groups. Nevertheless, late-FGR cord vein presented higher content of saturated fatty acids than control, producing a concomitant decrease in the percentage of some unsaturated fatty acids. In the late-FGR group, a lower DHA fetal/maternal ratio was observed when using percentages, but not with concentrations. No alterations were found in the expression of MFSD2A in late-FGR placentas, nor in phospho-AKT or phospho-ERK.

DISCUSSION: MFSD2A protein expression was not altered in late-FGR placentas, in line with no differences in cord DHA concentration between groups. The increase in the saturated fatty acid content of late-FGR cord might be a compensatory mechanism to ensure fetal energy supply, decreasing other fatty acids percentage. Future studies are warranted to elucidate if altered saturated fatty acid profile in late-FGR fetuses might predispose them to postnatal catch-up and to long-term health consequences.

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