Fetal exposure to maternal excess adiposity and hyperglycemia is risk factors for childhood adverse metabolic outcomes. Using data from a prospective pre-birth cohort, we aimed to further understand the prenatal determinants of fetal metabolic programming based on analyses of maternal adiposity and glycemic traits across pregnancy with childhood metabolomic profiles.
This study included 330 mother-child pairs from the Gen3G cohort with information on maternal adiposity and glycemic markers at 5-16 (visit 1) and 24-30 (visit 2) weeks of pregnancy. At mid-childhood (4.8-7.2 years old), we collected fasting plasma and measured 1116 metabolites using an untargeted approach. We constructed networks of interconnected metabolites using a weighted-correlation network analysis algorithm. We estimated Spearman's partial correlation coefficients of maternal adiposity and glycemic traits across pregnancy with metabolite networks and individual metabolites, adjusting for maternal age, gravidity, race/ethnicity, history of smoking, and child's sex and age at blood collection for metabolite measurement.
We identified a network of 16 metabolites, primarily glycero-3-phosphoethanolamines (GPE) at mid-childhood that showed consistent negative correlations with maternal body mass index, waist circumference, and body-fat percentage at visits 1 and 2 (ρ = -0.14 to -0.21) and post-challenge glucose levels at visit 2 (ρ = -0.10 to -0.13), while positive correlations with Matsuda index (ρ = 0.13). Within this identified network, 1-palmitoyl-2-decosahexaenoyl-GPE and 1-stearoyl-2-decosahexaenoyl-GPE appeared to be driving the associations. In addition, a network of 89 metabolites, primarily phosphatidylcholines, plasmalogens, sphingomyelins, and ceramides showed consistent negative correlations with insulin at visit 1 and post-challenge glucose at visit 2, while positive correlation with adiponectin at visit 2.
Prenatal exposure to maternal higher adiposity and hyperglycemic traits and lower insulin sensitivity markers were associated with a unique metabolomic pattern characterized by low serum phospho- and sphingolipids in mid-childhood.