Association between neurotrophin 4 and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid levels in mid-trimester amniotic fluid
Nerve Growth Factors
The omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (LCPUFA) docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and the omega-6 LCPUFA arachidonic acid (AA) are essential nervous system components that increase in concentration throughout gestation. The neurotrophins, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), nerve growth factor (NGF), neurotrophin 3 (NT3), and neurotrophin 4 (NT4) are small basic peptides crucial for fetal brain development. The DHA supplementation during pregnancy has been suggested to enhance neural development. We evaluated whether amniotic fluid DHA and AA concentrations correlated with intra-amniotic neurotrophin levels. Amniotic fluid, obtained at 15 to 19 weeks gestation from 62 women, was tested for BDNF, NGF, NT3, and NT4 by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Concentrations of DHA and AA, and saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, were determined by gas chromatography. Associations were analyzed by the Spearman rank correlation test. Median levels of AA and DHA were 2.3% and 1.3% of the total intra-amniotic fatty acids, respectively. Median neurotrophin levels (pg/mL) were 36.7 for NT3, 26.8 for BDNF, 5.2 for NT4, and 0.8 for NGF. Intra-amniotic NT4 and BDNF levels were correlated (P = .0016), while NT3 and NGF levels were unrelated to each other or to BDNF or NT4. Only NT4 was positively correlated with amniotic fluid DHA (P < .0001) and AA (P = .0003) concentrations. There were no associations between DHA, AA, or any neurotrophin and maternal age, gestational age at time of amniocentesis, amniocentesis indication, parity, or gestational age at delivery. Elevations in intra-amniotic NT4 with increasing levels of DHA and AA suggest that these LCPUFAs may specifically influence the extent of NT4-mediated fetal brain neurogenesis.