Polyunsaturated fatty acids influence offspring sex ratio in cows

Marei, W F A and Khalil, W A and Pushpakumara, P G A and El-Harairy, M A and Abo El-Atta, A M A and Wathes, D C and Fouladi-Nashta, A A (2019) Polyunsaturated fatty acids influence offspring sex ratio in cows. International Journal of Veterinary Science and Medicine, 6. S36-S40.

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Abstract

Dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) can influence fertility in farm animals. Some evidence in mice and sheep have suggested that PUFAs may influence offspring sex ratio, which may have significant value for cattle production. To test this hypothesis, three groups of Holstein cows were supplemented with either 0%, 3% or 5% protected fat (PF) in the form of calcium salt of fatty acids (rich in omega-6) from 14–21 days pre-partum until conception. Proven-fertile frozen semen from the same ejaculate was used for insemination. Calf sex recorded at birth was 8/19 (42.1%) male offspring in the control group, increasing to 14/20 (70%, P > 0.05) and 17/20 (85%, P < 0.05) in 3% and 5% PF, respectively. To test if this effect was caused by a direct influence on the oocyte, we supplemented bovine cumulus oocyte complexes during in vitro maturation with either omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), omega-6 linoleic acid (LA) or trans-10, cis-12 conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Sex ratio of the produced transferable embryos was determined using PCR of SRY gene. Similar to the in vivo results, sex ratio was skewed to the male side in the embryos derived from LA- and CLA-treated oocytes (79% and 71%) compared to control and ALA-treated oocytes (44% and 54%, respectively). These results indicate that both dietary and in vitro supplementation of omega-6 PUFAs can skew the sex ratio towards the male side in cattle. Further experiments are required to confirm this effect on a larger scale and to study the mechanisms of action that might be involved.