Plasma fatty acids affect the guinea pig oestrous cycle

Reproduction, Fertility and Development


Reproductive functions in female mammals can be significantly affected by the actions of dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) on steroid hormone secretion rates. Nevertheless, the effects of plasma free PUFAs on the oestrous cycle have seldom been considered. Therefore, in the present study, the diet of domestic guinea pigs was supplemented with high concentrations of different PUFAs and the effects of altered plasma PUFA patterns on steroid hormone concentrations, measured non-invasively, and body mass during oestrus and dioestrus were analysed. The oestrous cycle was characterised by increased oestrogen and cortisol concentrations in oestrus, corroborated by lowest bodyweight, whereas progesterone concentrations were highest in dioestrus. Plasma concentrations of the long-chain PUFAs docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6 ω3) and arachidonic acid (AA; 20:5 ω6) affected steroid hormone concentrations differently in oestrus and dioestrus. DHA positively affected oestrogen and progesterone concentrations and diminished cortisol concentrations only in oestrus. In contrast, AA negatively affected oestrogen and stimulated cortisol concentrations in oestrus and reduced progesterone concentrations in general. These findings imply selective and opposite contributions of DHA and AA to ovarian functions during different stages of the oestrous cycle, indicating a high biological relevance of plasma free PUFAs in female reproductive function.


Nemeth, M., Wallner, B., Siutz, C., Pschernig, E., Wagner, K-H., & Millesi, E. (2018). Steroid hormone concentrations and body mass are differently affected by polyunsaturated fatty acids during the oestrous cycle in guinea pigs. Reproduction, Fertility and Development, [RD17242]. DOI: 10.1071/RD17242