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A potential role for lysophosphatidylcholine in the delivery of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids to the fetal circulation

Ferchaud-Roucher, Véronique, Kramer, Anita, Silva, Elena, Pantham, Priyadarshini, Weintraub, Susan T., Jansson, Thomas, Powell, Theresa L.
Biochimica et biophysica acta 2019 v.1864 no.3 pp. 394-402
arachidonic acid, humans, liquid chromatography, long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, lysophosphatidylcholine, plasma membrane, pregnant women, protein synthesis, tandem mass spectrometry, transporters, trophoblast, umbilical veins
The mechanisms of placental transfer of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids are poorly understood, however fatty acid transporters in the syncytiotrophoblast microvillous (MVM) and basal plasma membrane (BM) are believed to be involved. Using LC-MS/MS and samples from normal term pregnant women, we found that the concentration of lysophosphatidylcholine-docosahexaenoyl (DHA-LPC) was 4-fold higher in umbilical vein plasma compared to maternal venous concentrations while conversely phosphatidylcholine (PC) containing DHA or arachidonic acid were higher in maternal circulation. Using primary human trophoblast cells incubated with DHA we show that DHA was highly incorporated into PC and LPC species in the placenta. Protein expression of Phosphatidylcholine Transfer Protein (PCTP) was 14-fold higher in MVM and the expression of MFSD2a, an LPC transporter, was 5-fold higher in BM than in MVM. Interestingly, BM MFSD2a expression was positively correlated with DHA-LPC in the umbilical vein. These findings suggest that syncytiotrophoblast takes up PC from the maternal circulation, as well as preferentially incorporating DHA into PC. Placental PC are converted to LPC forms, which are transported across the BM mediated by MFSD2a, with a strong selectivity for DHA.