Preliminary metabolomics analysis of placenta in maternal obesity

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Introduction Metabolomics identifies phenotypical groups with specific metabolic profiles, being increasingly applied to several pregnancy conditions. This is the first preliminary study analyzing placental metabolomics in normal weight (NW) and obese (OB) pregnancies. Methods Twenty NW (18.5 ≤ BMI< 25 kg/m2) and eighteen OB (BMI≥ 30 kg/m2) pregnancies were studied. Placental biopsies were collected at elective caesarean section. Metabolites extraction method was optimized for hydrophilic and lipophilic phases, then analyzed with GC-MS. Univariate and PLS-DA multivariate analysis were applied. Results Univariate analysis showed increased uracil levels while multivariate PLS-DA analysis revealed lower levels of LC-PUFA derivatives in the lipophilic phase and several metabolites with significantly different levels in the hydrophilic phase of OB vs NW. Discussion Placental metabolome analysis of obese pregnancies showed differences in metabolites involved in antioxidant defenses, nucleotide production, as well as lipid synthesis and energy production, supporting a shift towards higher placental metabolism. OB placentas also showed a specific fatty acids profile suggesting a disruption of LC-PUFA biomagnification. This study can lay the foundation to further metabolomic placental characterization in maternal obesity. Metabolic signatures in obese placentas may reflect changes occurring in the intrauterine metabolic environment, which may affect the development of adult diseases.




Fattuoni, C., Mandò, C., Palmas, F., Anelli, G. M., Novielli, C., Parejo Laudicina, E., … Cetin, I. (2018). Preliminary metabolomics analysis of placenta in maternal obesity. Placenta, 61, 89–95.

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