Insights into intrauterine growth restriction based on maternal

Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) is a fetal adverse condition, ascribed by limited oxygen and nutrient supply from the mother to the fetus. Management of IUGR is an ongoing challenge because of its connection with increased fetal mortality, preterm delivery and postnatal pathologies. Untargeted nuclear magnetic resonance (1H NMR) metabolomics was applied in 84 umbilical cord blood and maternal blood samples obtained from 48 IUGR and 36 appropriate for gestational age (AGA) deliveries. Orthogonal projections to latent structures discriminant analysis (OPLS-DA) followed by pathway and enrichment analysis generated classification models and revealed significant metabolites that were associated with altered pathways. A clear association between maternal and cord blood altered metabolomic profile was evidenced in IUGR pregnancies. Increased levels of the amino acids alanine, leucine, valine, isoleucine and phenylalanine were prominent in IUGR pregnancies indicating a connection with impaired amino acid metabolism and transplacental flux. Tryptophan was individually connected with cord blood discrimination while 3-hydroxybutyrate assisted only maternal blood discrimination.


Fig: Typical 1H-NMR spectrum of serum after methanol extraction following cpmgpr pulse sequence with expanded regions; the region between 3.25 and 4.00 ppm is occupied by sugar resonances. Major metabolites are assigned over the spectrum peaks.

Lower glycerol levels in IUGR samples ascribed to imbalance between gluconeogenesis and glycolysis pathways, suggesting poor glycolysis. The elevated levels of branched chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine) in intrauterine growth restricted pregnancies were linked with increased insulin resistance.

Moros, G., Boutsikou, T., Fotakis, C. et al. Insights into intrauterine growth restriction based on maternal and umbilical cord blood metabolomics. Sci Rep 11, 7824 (2021).

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