Pregnancy-Induced Metabolic Phenotype Variations in Maternal Plasma

Hemi Luan*, Nan Meng, Ping Liu, Qiang Feng, Shuhai Lin, Jin Fu, Robert Davidson, Xiaomin Chen, Weiqiao Rao, Fang Chen, Hui Jiang, Xun Xu, Zongwei Cai*, Jun Wang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

79 Citations (Scopus)


Metabolic variations occur during normal pregnancy to provide the growing fetus with a supply of nutrients required for its development and to ensure the health of the woman during gestation. Mass spectrometry-based metabolomics was employed to study the metabolic phenotype variations in the maternal plasma that are induced by pregnancy in each of its three trimesters. Nontargeted metabolomics analysis showed that pregnancy significantly altered the profile of metabolites in maternal plasma. The levels of six metabolites were found to change significantly throughout pregnancy, with related metabolic pathway variations observed in biopterin metabolism, phospholipid metabolism, amino acid derivatives, and fatty acid oxidation. In particular, there was a pronounced elevation of dihydrobiopterin (BH2), a compound produced in the synthesis of dopa, dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine, in the second trimester, whereas it was markedly decreased in the third trimester. The turnover of BH2 and tryptophan catabolites indicated that the fluctuations of neurotransmitters throughout pregnancy might reveal the metabolic adaption in the maternal body for the growth of the fetus. Furthermore, 11 lipid classes and 41 carnitine species were also determined and this showed variations in the presence of long-chain acylcarnitines and lysophospholipids in later pregnancy, suggesting changes of acylcarnitines and lysophospholipids to meet the energy demands in pregnant women. To our knowledge, this work is the first report of dynamic metabolic signatures and proposed related metabolic pathways in the maternal plasma for normal pregnancies and provided the basis for time-dependent metabolic trajectory against which disease-related disorders may be contrasted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1527-1536
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Proteome Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2014

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Chemistry(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • maternal plasma
  • metabolic phenotype
  • metabolomics
  • pregnancy
  • variations


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