Omega-3 could help prevent complications in pregnancy


Almost everyone has in their mouth a bacteria called Fusobacterium nucleatum. It is related to the risk of periodontitis or gum disease in some people, but the situation can be complicated if the bacteria moves to other parts of the body, such as the maternal uterus, during pregnancy. Indeed, it is estimated that between 10% and 30% of premature births are due to uterine or placental infections caused by this bacteria.

A very recent study, published a few days ago in the Journal of Clinical Investigation Insight, approached this problem, offering a possible solution: omega-3 fatty acids. It is signed by American scientists, who worked with female mice injected with the bacteria during the final stages of preganancy. The infection caused inflammation in placental cells, leading to premature birth and foetal death.

However, a very interesting discovery was also made: the bacteria Fusobacterium nucleatum only caused inflammation in females who had a protein called TLR4 in their placental cells, while those that lacked it had fewer complications.

Omega-3 properties

After this finding, they considered a strategy to block the mechanism that caused inflammation. They chose omega-3, given its known anti-inflammatory properties and the fact that it is recommended for women.

The experiments show that supplements containing omega-3 blocked inflammation and bacterial growth in gestating female mice. And this led to a reduction in premature births, miscarriage and foetal death.

The next step is to test it on pregnant women to corroborate that omega-3 can prevent intrauterine infection by Fusobacterium nucleatum and whether that this reduces miscarriages and premature births. Although the doses administered to mice were higher than those used in humans, omega-3 supplements could help prevent miscarriage and preterm birth, during pregnancy. Future research should throw more light on the issue.




Garcia-So J, Zhang X, Yang X, Rubinstein MR, Mao Y, Kitajewski J, Liu K, Han YW. Omega-3 fatty acids suppress Fusobacterium nucleatum–induced placental inflammation originating from maternal endothelial cells. JCI Insight. 2019;4(3):e125436. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.125436.


Middleton P, Gomersall JC, Gould JF, Shepherd E, Olsen SF, Makrides M. Omega-3 fatty acid addition during pregnancy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018 Nov 15;11:CD003402. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD003402.pub3.


Chen CY, Chen CY, Liu CC, Chen CP. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids reduce preterm labor by inhibiting trophoblast cathepsin S and inflammasome activation. Clin Sci (Lond). 2018 Oct 29;132(20):2221-2239. doi: 10.1042/CS20180796.


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