Metabolomic determination of pathogenesis of late-onset preeclampsia

J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2017 Mar;30(6):658-664. doi: 10.1080/14767058.2016.1185411. Epub 2016 Aug 28.


Objective: Our primary objective was to apply metabolomic pathway analysis of first trimester maternal serum to provide an insight into the pathogenesis of late-onset preeclampsia (late-PE) and thereby identify plausible therapeutic targets for PE.

Methods: NMR-based metabolomics analysis was performed on 29 cases of late-PE and 55 unaffected controls. In order to achieve sufficient statistical power to perform the pathway analysis, these cases were combined with a group of previously analyzed specimens, 30 late-PE cases and 60 unaffected controls. Specimens from both groups of cases and controls were collected in the same clinical centers during the same time period. In addition, NMR analyses were performed in the same lab and using the same techniques.

Results: We identified abnormalities in branch chain amino acids (valine, leucine and isoleucine) and propanoate, glycolysis, gluconeogenesis and ketone body metabolic pathways. The results suggest insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, mitochondrial dysfunction and disturbance of energy metabolism, oxidative stress and lipid dysfunction in the pathogenesis of late PE and suggest a potential role for agents that reduce insulin resistance in PE.

Conclusions: Branched chain amino acids are known markers of insulin resistance and strongly predict future diabetes development. The analysis provides independent evidence linking insulin resistance and late-PE and suggests a potentially important therapeutic role for pharmacologic agents that reduce insulin resistance for late-PE.

Keywords: Insulin resistance; metabolomics; preeclampsia.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isoleucine / blood*
  • Leucine / blood*
  • Leucine / metabolism
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways
  • Metabolomics*
  • Pre-Eclampsia / blood
  • Pre-Eclampsia / etiology*
  • Pre-Eclampsia / therapy
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, First / blood*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Valine / blood*
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • Isoleucine
  • Leucine
  • Valine