SCieNtifiC REpoRtS | (2018) 8:3389 | DOI:10.1038/s41598-018-21809-9
decreases in plasma, hepatic and
uterine polyunsaturated fatty acids
during labour is reversed through
improved nutrition at conception
, Ge Liu
, Raheela Khan
, Anatoly Shmygol
, Siobhan Quenby
, Robert Alan
, Beverly Muhlhausler
& Matthew Elmes
Maternal obesity is associated with prolonged and dysfunctional labour, potentially through decreased
synthesis of prostaglandins that stimulate myometrial contractions. We assessed the impact of
maternal obesity on concentrations of precursor fatty acids (FA) for prostaglandin synthesis and
whether any changes could be reversed by improved nutrition post-conception. Wistar rats were fed
control (CON) or High-Fat, High-cholesterol (HFHC) diets 6 weeks before mating. At conception half the
dams switched diets providing 4 dietary groups: (1) CON, (2) HFHC, (3) CON-HFHC or (4) HFHC-CON.
During parturition rats were euthanized and FA composition of plasma, liver and uterus determined.
Visceral fat was doubled in rats exposed to the HFHC diet prior to and/or during pregnancy compared
to CON. HFHC diet increased MUFAs but decreased omega-3 and omega-6 PUFAs in plasma and liver.
Uterine omega-3 FA concentrations were halved in HFHC versus CON rats, but all other FAs were similar.
Switching from HFHC to CON diet at conception restored all FA proles to those seen in CON rats. The
increased MUFA and decreased PUFA concentrations in obese HFHC dams may contribute to aberrant
prostaglandin synthesis and dysfunctional myometrial activity and it may be possible to reverse these
changes, and potentially improve labour outcomes, by improving nutrition at conception.
Between the years 1975–2014 global obesity levels have increased from 105 to 641 million people
. e UK level
of obesity in women of reproductive age currently stands at 20% and is estimated to reach 50% by 2050
this is associated with a parallel increase in the number of women entering pregnancy with a high BMI (Centre
for Maternal and Child Enquiries (3). Maternal obesity increases the risk of gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia,
post-partum haemorrhage and prolonged and dysfunctional labour resulting in emergency caesarean deliv-
. Although the increased risks of adverse pregnancy outcomes in obese women is well established, very few
studies have attempted to elucidate the underlying mechanism(s), and therefore identify potential strategies for
produced within intrauterine tissues play a central role in regulating
uterine activity during pregnancy and parturition
, and increased production of these compounds is required
for the initiation and progression of labour. PGE
maintains uterine quiescence during pregnancy but stimu-
lates myometrial contractions during labour via specic EP receptors
Division of Nutritional Science, School of Bioscience, University of Nottingham, Sutton Bonington Campus,
Loughborough, LE12 5RD, England, United Kingdom.
Graduate School of Medicine, University of Nottingham,
Royal Derby Hospital, Uttoxeter Road, Derby, DE22 3DT, England, United Kingdom.
Department of Physiology,
College of Medicine and Health Sciences, United Arab Emirates University, Al Ain, P. O. Box 17666, UAE.
Research Unit in Reproductive Health, University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, Coventry, CV2
2DX, Warwickshire, United Kingdom.
Healthy Mothers, Babies and Children’s Theme, South Australian Health
and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), Adelaide, Australia.
Department of Wine and Food Science, FOODplus
Research Centre, School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia. Correspondence
and requests for materials should be addressed to M.E. (email: email@example.com)
Received: 14 November 2017
Accepted: 12 February 2018
Published: xx xx xxxx