University of Oulu

Wang, Q., Würtz, P., Auro, K., Mäkinen, V., Kangas, A., Soininen, P., Tiainen, M., Tynkkynen, T., Jokelainen, J., Santalahti, K., Salmi, M., Blankenberg, S., Zeller, T., Viikari, J., Kähönen, M., Lehtimäki, T., Salomaa, V., Perola, M., Jalkanen, S., Järvelin, M., Raitakari, O., Kettunen, J., Lawlor, D., Ala-Korpela, M. (2016) Metabolic profiling of pregnancy: cross-sectional and longitudinal evidence. BMC Medicine, 14 (1), . doi:10.1186/s12916-016-0733-0

Metabolic profiling of pregnancy : cross-sectional and longitudinal evidence

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Author: Wang, Qin1,2; Würtz, Peter1; Auro, Kirsi3,4,5;
Organizations: 1Computational Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu and Biocenter Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2NMR Metabolomics Laboratory, School of Pharmacy, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland
3National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland
4Institute for Molecular Medicine (FIMM), University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
5Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Helsinki University Central Hospital and University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
6Heart Health Theme, South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, Adelaide, Australia
7School of Biological Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia
8Center for Life Course Health Research and Biocenter Oulu, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
9Unit of Primary Care, Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland
10Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, and MediCity Research Laboratory, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
11Clinic for General and Interventional Cardiology, University Heart Center Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
12German Center for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK e.V.), partner site Hamburg, Lübeck, Kiel, Germany
13Department of Medicine, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
14Division of Medicine, Turku University Hospital, Turku, Finland
15Department of Clinical Physiology, University of Tampere and Tampere University Hospital, Tampere, Finland
16Department of Clinical Chemistry, Fimlab Laboratories, School of Medicine, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland
17Estonian Genome Center, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia
18Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, MRC-PHE Centre for Environment and Health, School of Public Health, Imperial College London, London, UK
19Research Centre of Applied and Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
20Department of Clinical Physiology and Nuclear Medicine, Turku University Hospital, Turku, Finland
21Medical Research Council Integrative Epidemiology Unit at the University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
22School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.7 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2016
Publish Date: 2019-05-10


Background: Pregnancy triggers well-known alterations in maternal glucose and lipid balance but its overall effects on systemic metabolism remain incompletely understood.

Methods: Detailed molecular profiles (87 metabolic measures and 37 cytokines) were measured for up to 4260 women (24–49 years, 322 pregnant) from three population-based cohorts in Finland. Circulating molecular concentrations in pregnant women were compared to those in non-pregnant women. Metabolic profiles were also reassessed for 583 women 6 years later to uncover the longitudinal metabolic changes in response to change in the pregnancy status.

Results: Compared to non-pregnant women, all lipoprotein subclasses and lipids were markedly increased in pregnant women. The most pronounced differences were observed for the intermediate-density, low-density and high-density lipoprotein triglyceride concentrations. Large differences were also seen for many fatty acids and amino acids. Pregnant women also had higher concentrations of low-grade inflammatory marker glycoprotein acetyls, higher concentrations of interleukin-18 and lower concentrations of interleukin-12p70. The changes in metabolic concentrations for women who were not pregnant at baseline but pregnant 6 years later (or vice versa) matched (or were mirror-images of) the cross-sectional association pattern. Cross-sectional results were consistent across the three cohorts and similar longitudinal changes were seen for 653 women in 4-year and 497 women in 10-year follow-up. For multiple metabolic measures, the changes increased in magnitude across the three trimesters.

Conclusions: Pregnancy initiates substantial metabolic and inflammatory changes in the mothers. Comprehensive characterisation of normal pregnancy is important for gaining understanding of the key nutrients for fetal growth and development. These findings also provide a valuable molecular reference in relation to studies of adverse pregnancy outcomes.

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Series: BMC medicine
ISSN: 1741-7015
ISSN-E: 1741-7015
ISSN-L: 1741-7015
Volume: 14
Article number: 205
DOI: 10.1186/s12916-016-0733-0
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3111 Biomedicine
3141 Health care science
Funding: The quantitative serum NMR metabolomics platform and its development has been supported by the Academy of Finland, TEKES (the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation), Sigrid Juselius Foundation, Novo Nordisk Foundation, Finnish Diabetes Research Foundation, Paavo Nurmi Foundation, and strategic and infrastructural research funding from the University of Oulu, Finland, as well as by British Heart Foundation, Welcome Trust, and Medical Research Council, UK. The Young Finns Study has been financially supported by the Academy of Finland: grant numbers 134309 (Eye), 126925, 121584, 124282, 129378 (Salve), 117797 (Gendi), 41071 (Skidi), and 286284; the Social Insurance Institution of Finland; Kuopio, Tampere and Turku University Hospital Medical Funds; Juho Vainio Foundation; Sigrid Juselius Foundation; Yrjö Jahnsson Foundation; Paavo Nurmi Foundation; Finnish Foundation for Cardiovascular Research and Finnish Cultural Foundation; Tampere Tuberculosis Foundation; and Emil Aaltonen Foundation. MS and SJ have been supported through funds from the Academy of Finland (grant number 141136). NFBC1966 has received financial support from the Academy of Finland (project grants 104781, 120315, 129269, 1114194, and SALVE); University Hospital Oulu, Biocenter, University of Oulu, Finland (75617); European Commission (EURO-BLCS, Framework 5 award QLG1-CT-2000-01643; EU H2020-PHC-2014-grant no. 633595); Medical Research Council, UK (G0500539, G0600705, PrevMetSyn/SALVE, PS0476); and Wellcome Trust (project grant GR069224). KA has received funding from Finnish Medical Association. SB and TZ have been supported by European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement No. HEALTH-F2-2011-278913 (BiomarCaRE). VS has received funds from the Academy of Finland (grant number 139635) and from Finnish Foundation for Cardiovascular Research. JK was supported through funds from the Academy of Finland (grant number 283045). The contribution of DAL to this study was supported by grants from the US National Institute of Health (R01 DK10324), European Research Council (ObesityDevelop; Grant no. 669545) and UK National Institute for Health Research (NF-SI-0166-10196). DAL and MAK work in a unit that is supported by the University of Bristol and UK Medical Research Council (MC_UU_1201/1 and MC_UU_1201/5). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
EU Grant Number: (633595) DYNAHEALTH - Understanding the dynamic determinants of glucose homeostasis and social capability to promote Healthy and active aging
Copyright information: © The Author(s). 2016. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.