Elevated branched chain amino acids (BCAAs: valine, leucine, and isoleucine) are well-established biomarkers of obesity-associated insulin resistance (IR). Mounting evidence suggests that low- and middle-income countries are suffering from a "double burden" of both undernutrition (growth stunting) and overnutrition (obesity) as these countries undergo a "nutrition transition". The purpose of this study was to examine if pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI, kg/m²) and a daily lipid-based micronutrient supplement (LNS, Nutriset) would lead to cross-sectional differences in circulating levels of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) in Guatemalan women experiencing short stature during early pregnancy. Using data from an ongoing randomized controlled trial, Women First, we studied women who were normal weight (NW, BMI range for this cohort = 20.1⁻24.1 kg/m²) or overweight/obese (OW/OB, BMI range for this cohort = 25.6⁻31.9 kg/m²), and divided into two groups: those who received daily LNS ≥ 3 months prior to conception through 12 weeks gestation (+LNS), or no LNS (-LNS) (n = 9⁻10/group). BCAAs levels were obtained from dried blood spot card samples (DBS) assessed at 12 weeks gestation. DBS cards provide a stable, efficient, and reliable means of collecting, transporting, and storing blood samples in low resource or field settings. Circulating maternal leptin, adiponectin, and insulin were determined by immunoassays from serum samples collected at 12 weeks gestation. We found maternal pre-pregnancy body mass index (ppBMI) was associated with higher circulating BCAAs (r² = 0.433, p = 0.002) and higher leptin/adiponectin ratio (r = 0.466, p = 0.044) in -LNS mothers at 12 weeks gestation. +LNS mothers demonstrated no correlations between BCAAs or leptin/adiponectin ratio across ppBMI suggesting LNS may be effective at improving metabolic status in OW/OB mothers during early pregnancy.
Keywords: branched chain amino acids; dried blood spot cards; micronutrients; obesity; pregnancy.