ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Low birth weight has been linked to an increased risk to develop obesity, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension in adult life although the mechanisms underlying the association are not well understood. The objective was to determine whether the metabolomic profile of plasma from umbilical cord differs between low and normal birth weight newborns. METHODS: Fifty healthy pregnant women and their infants were selected. The eligibility criteria were being born at term and having a normal pregnancy and the pairs were grouped according to their birth weight: low birth weight (LBW, birth weight<10th percentile, n=20) and control (control, birth weight between the 75th-95th percentiles, n=30). Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) was used to generate metabolic fingerprints of umbilical cord plasma samples. Simultaneously, the metabolomic profiles of the mothers were analysed. The resulting data were subjected to chemometric, principal component and partial least squares discriminant analyses. RESULTS: Umbilical cord plasma from LBW and control newborns displayed a clearly differentiated metabolic profile. Seven metabolites were identified that discriminate the LBW from the control group. LBW newborns had lower levels of choline, proline, glutamine, alanine and glucose than the control newborns, while plasma levels of phenylalanine and citrulline were higher in LBW newborns (p<0.05). No significant differences were found between the two groups of mothers. CONCLUSIONS: Low birth weight newborns display a differential metabolomics profile as compared to those of normal birth weight, something not present in the mothers. The meaning and potential utility of the findings as biomarkers of risk need to be addressed in future studies.
Journal of Translational Medicine 07/2012; 10(1):142. · 3.41 Impact Factor