Role of Sphingolipids in Infant Gut Health and Immunity.
- Åke Nilsson
- The Journal of pediatrics
Three experiments were designed to investigate the metabolism of dietary nervonic acid (24:1n-9, NA) during reproduction in the rat. The first experiment determined the effect of early development on the sphingomyelin (SM) composition of rat heart and liver tissues. Rats were fed a standard chow diet and the SM fatty acid composition of the hearts and livers were analyzed of 18-20 day old fetuses, 14 day old sucklings and adult rats. The 18:0 content of SM decreases with age, while 23:0 and iso 24:0 increase with age. In the second experiment pregnant rats were fed diets supplemented with either canola, corn or peanut oil to determine the effect of diets high in 24:1n-9 and 24:0 on liver and heart SM at birth and after 14 days of suckling. Pups from the dams fed the corn oil diet had elevated 24:2n-6 in SM from heart and liver at birth, but the content of NA was not altered by dietary fat type. In the third experiment oil mixtures were designed to provide elevated levels of 22:1 and 24:1 (canola-N25), 22:0 and 24:0 (peanut-flax) or <0.01% of these fatty acids (olive-flax) and were supplemented to the diets of lactating rats. Canola-N25 oil supplemented to lactating rats resulted in increased 24:1n-9 and 24:1/24:0 with decreased 22:0 and 24:0 in milk SM relative to the other groups. The SM composition of livers of the suckling rats showed significant changes reflecting the changes in milk SM composition after 6 days of milk consumption. These experiments suggest that dietary NA and is not readily transferred across the placental barrier but does readily cross the mammary epithelium and is incorporated into milk SM. In addition, NA in milk appears to cross the intestinal epithelium where it is incorporated into the SM of heart and liver of suckling rats.