Associations of cord blood metabolites with perinatal characteristics, newborn anthropometry, and cord blood hormones in project viva

Wei Perng*, Sheryl L. Rifas-Shiman, Scott McCulloc, Leda Chatzi, Christos Mantzoros, Marie-France Hivert, Emily Oken

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

37 Citations (Web of Science)


Context. Metabolomics has emerged as a powerful tool to characterize biomarkers and elucidate physiological processes underlying adverse health outcomes. Little is known of these relationships during gestation and infancy, which are critical period for development of metabolic disease risk.

Objectives. To identify cord blood metabolite patterns associated with birth size; and to investigate relations of the birth size-associated metabolite patterns, and a branched chain amino acid (BCAA) metabolite pattern with a range of newborn and perinatal characteristics.

Methods. Using untargeted mass-spectrometry, we quantified metabolites in cord blood of 126 mother-child pairs. After excluding 103 xenobiotics, we used principal components analysis (PCA) to consolidate the remaining 606 metabolites into principal components ("factors"). Next, we identified factors associated with gestational age-and sex-standardized birthweight z-score (BW/GA) and examined associations of the BW/GA-associated pattern(s) and the BCAA pattern with cord blood insulin, leptin, adiponectin, insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1, IGF-2, and IGF binding protein 3 (IGFBP-3) using multivariable linear regression. Finally, we examined associations of maternal/perinatal characteristics with the cord blood metabolite patterns.

Results. Mean BW/GA z-score was 0.27 +/- 0.98 units. About half of the infants were male (52.4%) and white (57.1%). Of the 6 factors identified from PCA, one was associated with higher BW/GA: Factor 5, which comprised metabolites involved in energy production (malate, succinate, fumarate) and nucleotide turnover (inosine 5-monophosphate, adenosine 5-monophosphate, cytidine 5-monophosphate) pathways. In multivariable analysis, Factor 5 was related to higher cord blood leptin (1.64 [95% CI: 0.42, 2.871 ng/mL) and IGF-1 even after adjusting for IGFBP-3 (3.35 [0.25, 6.44] ng/mL). The BCAA pattern was associated with higher BW/GA (0.20 [0.03, 0.36] z-scores) and IGFBP-3 (106.5 [44.7, 168.2] ng/mL). No maternal characteristics were associated with either metabolite pattern; however, infants born via Cesarean delivery exhibited a higher score for Factor 5, and gestation length was inversely associated with the BCAA pattern.

Conclusions. Metabolites in energy production and DNA/RNA turnover pathways in cord blood are associated with larger size at birth, and higher leptin and IGF-1. Similarly, the BCAA pattern was associated with larger birth size and IGFBP-3. (C) 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-22
Number of pages12
JournalMetabolism-Clinical and Experimental
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017


  • Metabolomics
  • Birth size
  • Branched-chain amino acids
  • Neonatal adiposity
  • Cord blood hormones

Cite this