Dietary fat supplementation and the consequences for oocyte and embryo quality: hype or significant benefit for dairy cow reproduction?

JL Leroy, RG Sturmey, Hoeck V Van, Bie J De, PJ McKeegan, PE Bols

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In many countries, fat supplementation in the diet has become common in the dairy industry. There are several ideas as to how dietary fat could influence reproductive performance. Saturated fatty acids, such as palm oil, can increase milk yield but may aggravate negative energy balance and thus may impair fertility when fed during the first week post‐partum. However, priming the lipid oxidation in the liver by feeding saturated fats during the dry period has recently been shown to be a potentially promising strategy to mitigate fat mobilization and liver accumulation post‐partum. Furthermore, polyunsaturated fats (omega‐3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acids) are fed to reduce the ‘de novo’ fat synthesis in the udder and thus the milk fat content, which may be of modest benefit for overall energy balance. Furthermore, omega‐6 and omega‐3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are reported to alter follicular growth, steroid synthesis and prostaglandin metabolism in the ovary and endometrium, respectively. Omega‐6 fatty acids are believed to have pro‐inflammatory and thus PGF2α‐stimulating properties rendering them extra value as ‘nutraceutical’ early post‐partum, while omega‐3 fatty acids can weaken this inflammatory potency, leading to a higher chance of survival of the embryo when supplemented during the periconceptual period. Unfortunately, research results rarely provide a consensus in this perspective. The consequences of these fat‐feeding strategies on oocyte and embryo quality remain an intriguing issue for debate. Fat feeding may alter the microenvironment of the growing and maturing oocyte of the early and older embryo and thus may affect reproductive outcome. We recently reported that dietary‐induced hyperlipidaemic conditions can be harmful for embryo development and metabolism. However, to date, research results remain somewhat conflicting most probably due to differences in fat sources used, in diet and duration of supplementation and in experimental set‐up in general.
Original languageUndefined
JournalReproduction in Domestic Animals
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014

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