The Effect of Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA) Supplementation During Pregnancy

2017-02-03 09:23:39 | BioPortfolio


Omega-3 fatty acids are "good fats," and are among the most important nutrients lacking in Western diets today. The average person in developing countries consumes less than 100 mg of DHA daily. With increasing awareness of the importance of DHA, many people realize that they need to make a change in their diet by adding DHA-rich foods or supplements.

The aim of this study is to learn the effect of different supplementations from the omega 3 group on the maternal and fetal fatty acid profile during pregnancy and to study their epigenetic influence.


DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid ) is a long chain omega-3 fatty acid important for brain and eye development and function throughout life. It also supports heart health. DHA is the most abundant omega-3 in the brain and retina and is naturally found in breast milk. EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid ) is a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid important for overall health. However, unlike DHA, the body does not store EPA in significant quantities in the brain or retina (DHA is found in every cell throughout the body, EPA is not). These Omega 3 fatty acids are considered essential due to the inability of the human body to create them and the need to consume them from nutritional source. Food that is considered rich in omega 3 fatty acids are fat fish and green vegetables. Omega-3 fatty acids are "good fats," and are among the most important nutrients lacking in Western diets today. The average person in developing countries consumes less than 100 mg of DHA daily. With increasing awareness of the importance of DHA, many people realize that they need to make a change in their diet by adding DHA-rich foods or supplements.

Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA) is a shorter-chain omega-3 that serves as a source of energy and as a building block for long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA). This precursor for omega 3 fatty acid is abundant in falx seeds. The mother and the fetus has the metabolic mechanism that enables them to transform ALA into EPA,DHA endogenously.

Women during pregnancy are predisposed to a reduction in unsaturated long chain fatty acid (Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid = PUFA) from the omega 3 group . Lately, a new hypothesis claiming that a reduced level of this essential acids expose the fetus later in his adult life to a spectrum of metabolic and cardiovascular disease. New publication on animal models showed higher rates of obesity, insulin resistance diabetes and cardiovascular damage on mice exposed short chain fatty acids compared to those treated with enriched ALA diet supplementation. Different nutritional and gynecological health organization around the world including the FDA, recommend incorporating omega 3 fatty acids supplementation to daily diet and specifically in pregnant women in order to raise their blood levels for the developing fetus. However, normal fatty acid profile of the omega 3 group in mother and fetus haven't been described yet. Furthermore, the total effect and future benefit to fetus haven't been thoroughly studied and is based mainly on presumptions.

The aim of this study is to learn the effect of different supplementations from the omega 3 group on the maternal and fetal fatty acid profile during pregnancy and to study their epigenetic influence.

Study methods:

Women 12 weeks of gestation visiting high risk unit and fitting inclusion criteria will be offered to participate in the study. Demographic, medical and obstetrical information will be collected from medical files after giving signed informed consent .

Each participant will be randomly assigned to one of three arms of the study based on the order of being recruited (1- to first group, 2- to second group, 3 - to third group, 4- to first group, etc.). Randomization will be done by the principal investigator that is not one of the high risk unit team, and will be blinded to the participants and the treating doctor.

Group 1: Enriched diet with 2 capsules of ALA supplementation a day - 630 mg in each capsule. Total amount of 1260 mg (Daily recommended dose is 1-2 g).

Group 2: Enriched diet with 2 capsules of DHA+EPA supplementation a day (Each capsule consist of 240 mg DHA and 360 mg EPA) Group 3: Control group - Will receive 2 placebo capsule a day (All products will be supplied by the same company that is approved by the FDA and the Israeli health ministry) Follow up will take place on every visit to the high risk unit that is 3 and 2 weeks apart at the second and third trimester, respectively. On each visit one blood tube that include 5cc of blood will be taken for fatty acid profile analysis and on labor 2 blood tubes will be taken from the mother and from the umbilical cord after separation of the placenta : 1- for fatty acid analysis , 2- for PCR evaluation of mRNAs of genes that were found correlated in animal models to be influenced by maternal diet during pregnancy and are connected to metabolic syndrome pathologies in adulthood ( including - FASn, Elov6, PPAR (α, β/δ, γ), SCD1, Fads2, SREBP-1 Ppargc1alpha, Lpin1, Plin5 , MAPK/PGC-1α. (

Study Design


Omega 3 Supplements During Pregnancy


Alpha Linolenic Acid, Omega 3 enriched diet ( DHA+EPA), Placebo


Not yet recruiting


Sheba Medical Center

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2017-02-03T09:23:39-0500

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Medical and Biotech [MESH] Definitions

FATTY ACIDS which have the first unsaturated bond in the sixth position from the omega carbon. A typical American diet tends to contain substantially more omega-6 than OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS.

An omega-6 fatty acid produced in the body as the delta 6-desaturase metabolite of linoleic acid. It is converted to dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid, a biosynthetic precursor of monoenoic prostaglandins such as PGE1. (From Merck Index, 11th ed)

Peptide neurotoxins from the marine fish-hunting snails of the genus CONUS. They contain 13 to 29 amino acids which are strongly basic and are highly cross-linked by disulfide bonds. There are three types of conotoxins, omega-, alpha-, and mu-. OMEGA-CONOTOXINS inhibit voltage-activated entry of calcium into the presynaptic membrane and therefore the release of ACETYLCHOLINE. Alpha-conotoxins inhibit the postsynaptic acetylcholine receptor. Mu-conotoxins prevent the generation of muscle action potentials. (From Concise Encyclopedia Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 3rd ed)

A neurotoxic peptide, which is a cleavage product (VIa) of the omega-Conotoxin precursor protein contained in venom from the marine snail, CONUS geographus. It is an antagonist of CALCIUM CHANNELS, N-TYPE.

A group of fatty acids, often of marine origin, which have the first unsaturated bond in the third position from the omega carbon. These fatty acids are believed to reduce serum triglycerides, prevent insulin resistance, improve lipid profile, prolong bleeding times, reduce platelet counts, and decrease platelet adhesiveness.

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