Metabolite Changes in Maternal and Fetal Plasma Following Spontaneous Labour at Term in Humans Using Untargeted Metabolomics Analysis: A Pilot Study

Kate Birchenall, Gavin Welsh, Andres Lopez Bernal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Abstract

The mechanism of human labour remains poorly understood, limiting our ability to manage complications of parturition such as preterm labour and induction of labour. In this study we have investigated the effect of labour on plasma metabolites immediately following delivery, comparing cord and maternal plasma taken from women who laboured spontaneously and delivered vaginally with women who were delivered via elective caesarean section and did not labour. Samples were analysed using ultra high-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Welch’s two-sample t-test was used to identify any significant differences. Of 826 metabolites measured, 26.9% (222/826) were significantly altered in maternal plasma and 21.1% (174/826) in cord plasma. Labour involves changes in many maternal organs and poses acute metabolic demands in the uterus and in the fetus and these are reflected in our results. While a proportion of these differences are likely to be secondary to the physiological demands of labour itself, these results present a comprehensive picture of the metabolome in the maternal and fetal circulations at the time of delivery and can be used to guide future studies. We discuss potential causal pathways for labour including endocannabinoids, ceramides and sphingolipids. Further work is necessary to confirm the specific pathways involved in the spontaneous onset of labour.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1527
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume16
Issue number9
Early online date30 Apr 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2019

Keywords

  • Endocannabinoid
  • Energy metabolism
  • Human parturition
  • Steroids

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