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Lindsay, Karen L.; Hellmuth, Christian; Uhl, Olaf; Buss, Claudia; Wadhwa, Pathik D.; Koletzko, Berthold; Entringer, Sonja (2015): Longitudinal Metabolomic Profiling of Amino Acids and Lipids across Healthy Pregnancy.
In: PLOS ONE 10(12), e0145794
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Abstract

Pregnancy is characterized by a complexity of metabolic processes that may impact fetal development and ultimately, infant health outcomes. However, our understanding of whole body maternal and fetal metabolism during this critical life stage remains incomplete. The objective of this study is to utilize metabolomics to profile longitudinal patterns of fasting maternal metabolites among a cohort of non-diabetic, healthy pregnant women in order to advance our understanding of changes in protein and lipid concentrations across gestation, the biochemical pathways by which they are metabolized and to describe variation in maternal metabolites between ethnic groups. Among 160 pregnant women, amino acids, tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle intermediates, keto-bodies and non-esterified fatty acids were detected by liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry, while polar lipids were detected through flow-injected mass spectrometry. The maternal plasma concentration of several essential and non-essential amino acids, long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, free carnitine, acetylcarnitine, phosphatidylcholines and sphingomyelins significantly decreased across pregnancy. Concentrations of several TCA intermediates increase as pregnancy progresses, as well as the keto-body beta-hydroxybutyrate. Ratios of specific acylcarnitines used as indicators of metabolic pathways suggest a decreased beta-oxidation rate and increased carnitine palmitoyltransferase-1 enzyme activity with advancing gestation. Decreasing amino acid concentrations likely reflects placental uptake and tissue biosynthesis. The absence of any increase in plasma non-esterified fatty acids is unexpected in the catabolic phase of later pregnancy and may reflect enhanced placental fatty acid uptake and utilization for fetal tissue growth. While it appears that energy production through the TCA cycle increases as pregnancy progresses, decreasing patterns of free carnitine and acetylcarnitine as well as increased carnitine palmitoyltransferase-1 rate and beta-hydroxybutyrate levels suggest a concomitant upregulation of ketogenesis to ensure sufficient energy supply in the fasting state. Several differences in metabolomic profiles between Hispanic and non-Hispanic women demonstrate phenotypic variations in prenatal metabolism which should be considered in future studies.