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Intravenous fat induces changes in PUFA and their bioactive metabolites: Comparison between Japanese and Australian preterm infants



Oxylipins are biologically active signaling molecules that initiate and resolve inflammation; they are synthesized by oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and reflect PUFA intake and status. The PUFA intake in preterm infants differs between countries because of the type of lipid emulsions used and the PUFA content of breast milk. We compared total blood PUFA, free PUFA and their oxylipin levels in dried whole blood samples from preterm infants born in Australia and Japan.


We enrolled 30 and 14 preterm infants born less than 31 weeks' gestation, from Adelaide and Japan respectively. Blood samples were obtained from cord blood, and on postnatal days 4, 7, 14 and 28. Total PUFAs were measured using gas chromatography, while free fatty acids and oxylipins were screened using ultra high-performance liquid chromatography mass spectroscopy.


Differences in the levels of blood PUFA between the centres were found which were in line with the timing and type of lipid emulsion administration. Significant differences in longitudinal levels were seen more often in free PUFA and their oxylipins than in total blood PUFA. This was particularly true for AA and DHA. In contrast, differences in the levels could be seen in total blood EPA, as well as in free EPA and its oxylipins. Further, levels of many free PUFA and their oxylipins were higher in Japanese infants than in Australian infants.


Differences in total and free fatty acids and unesterified oxylipins, were observed during the first weeks of life and between preterm infants born in Australia and Japan, which were likely a reflection of the type of lipid emulsion and timing of administration. The clinical significance of these changes remains to be explored.

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