Maternal n-3 PUFA supplementation promotes fetal brown adipose tissue development through epigenetic modifications in C57BL/6 mice

Rong Fan, Ashley Mulcahy Toney, Yura Jang, Seung Hyun Ro, Soonkyu Chung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


Brown adipose tissue (BAT) is a crucial regulator of energy expenditure. Emerging evidence suggests that n-3 PUFA potentiate brown adipogenesis in vitro. Since the pregnancy and lactation is a critical time for brown fat formation, we hypothesized that maternal supplementation of n-3 PUFA promotes BAT development in offspring. Female C57BL/6 mice were fed a diet containing n-3 PUFA (3%) derived from fish oil (FO), or an isocaloric diet devoid of n-3 PUFA (Cont) during pregnancy and lactation. Maternal n-3 PUFA intake was delivered to the BAT of neonates significantly reducing the n-6/n-3 ratio. The maternal n-3 PUFA exposure was linked with upregulated brown-specific gene and protein profiles and the functional cluster of brown-specific miRNAs. In addition, maternal n-3 PUFA induced histone modifications in the BAT evidenced by 1) increased epigenetic signature of brown adipogenesis, i.e., H3K27Ac and H3K9me2, 2) modified chromatin-remodeling enzymes, and 3) enriched the H3K27Ac in the promoter region of Ucp1. The offspring received maternal n-3 PUFA nutrition exhibited a significant increase in whole-body energy expenditure and better maintenance of core body temperature against acute cold treatment. Collectively, our results suggest that maternal n-3 PUFA supplementation potentiates fetal BAT development via the synergistic action of miRNA production and histone modifications, which may confer long-lasting metabolic benefits to offspring.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1488-1497
Number of pages10
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018



  • BAT
  • Fish oil
  • Maternal nutrition
  • N-3 PUFA
  • Thermogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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