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Linoleic and Arachidonic Fatty Acids and their Potential Relationship with Inflammation, Pregnancy, and Fetal Development


Macarena Ortiz, Daniela Álvarez, Yasna Muñoz, Nicolás Crisosto, Rodrigo Valenzuela and Manuel Maliqueo*   Pages 1 - 15 ( 15 )


A healthy maternal diet must consider an appropriate supply of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) precursors to ensure adequate growth and development of the fetus. In this regard, n-6 PUFAs, predominantly linoleic (C18:2 n-6, LA) and arachidonic acid (C20:4 n-6), have a central role in the development of the central nervous system because they are part of the membrane structure and participate in the metabolism and signal transduction of cells. Nevertheless, they can also be transformed into inflammatory metabolites promoting the pathogenesis of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and autoimmune or inflammatory conditions. In modern westernized societies, there is a high dietary consumption of foods rich in n-6 PUFAs which could have detrimental consequences for the fetus and neonate due to excessive exposure to these fatty acids (FAs).

Objective: To summarize the evidence of maternal, placental, and fetal alterations that an excessive intake of n-6 polyunsaturated FAs (PUFAs), LA, and AA, could produce during pregnancy.

Methods: A thorough review of the literature regarding the effects of n-6 PUFAs during pregnancy and lactation including in vivo and in vitro models, was carried out using the PubMed database from the National Library of Medicine-National Institutes of Health.

Results: An elevated intake of n-6 PUFA, specifically LA, during pregnancy influences children's motor, cognitive, and verbal development during infancy and early childhood. Similarly, they could harm the placenta and the development of other fetal organs such as the fat tissue, liver, and cardiovascular system.

Conclusion: Maternal diet, specifically LA intake, could have significant repercussions on fetal development and long-term consequences in the offspring, including the possibility of future metabolic and mental diseases. It would be necessary to focus on the prevention of these alterations through timely dietary interventions in the target population.


Fatty acids, linoleic acid, arachidonic acid, obesity, pregnancy, fetal development, inflammation.


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