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Phospholipids in Lipoproteins: Compositional Differences Across VLDL, LDL, and HDL in Pregnant Women


Phospholipids in Lipoproteins: Compositional Differences Across VLDL, LDL, and HDL in Pregnant Women

Sebastian Rauschert et al. Lipids Health Dis.


Objective: The aim of this study was to analyse the differences in the phospholipid composition of very low density (VLDL), low density (LDL) and high density lipoprotein (HDL) monolayers in pregnant lean and obese women.

Methods: LDL, HDL, and VLDL were isolated from plasma samples of 10 lean and 10 obese pregnant women, and their species composition of phosphatidylcholines (PC) and sphingomyelins (SM) was analysed by liquid-chromatography tandem mass-spectrometry. Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney U test and principal component analysis (PCA) were used to investigate if metabolite profiles differed between the lean/obese group and between lipoprotein species.

Results: No significant differences have been found in the metabolite levels between obese and non-obese pregnant women. The PCA components 1 and 2 separated between LDL, HDL, and VLDL but not between normal weight and obese women. Twelve SM and one PCae were more abundant in LDL than in VLDL. In contrast, four acyl-alkyl-PC and two diacyl-PC were significantly higher in HDL compared to LDL. VLDL and HDL differed in three SM, seven acyl-alkyl-PC and one diacyl-PC (higher values in HDL) and 13 SM (higher in VLDL). We also found associations of some phospholipid species with HDL and LDL cholesterol.

Conclusion: In pregnant women phospholipid composition differs significantly in HDL, LDL and VLDL, similar to previous findings in men and non-pregnant women. Obese and lean pregnant women showed no significant differences in their lipoprotein associated metabolite profile.

Keywords: Lipidomics; Lipoproteins; Obesity; Phosphatidylcholine; Pregnancy; Sphingolipids; Sphingomyelin.

Conflict of interest statement

Ethics approval and consent to participate

Written informed consent was obtained from all subjects. This study was approved by the Hospital Ethics Committee.

Consent for publication

Not applicable.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.


Fig. 1
Fig. 1
Manhattan plot showing the |–log10(p)| -values (y-axis) of the Wilcoxon Mann Whitney U test, testing for metabolite differences in plasma between normal weight and obese pregnant women, stratified by lipoprotein species. Scattered line: uncorrected α-level at ±log10(0.05) = ±1.3
Fig. 2
Fig. 2
Score plot for the Principal Component Analysis of lipoprotein metabolite composition of normal weight and obese pregnant women
Fig. 3
Fig. 3
Plot of the ratios between the metabolite medians and sum of all mono-unsaturated sphingomyelins (SM) as well as poly-unsaturated ester-linked phosphatidylcholines (PCaa) and ether-linked phosphatidylcholines (PCae) in the different lipoprotein species. The 95% confidence intervals for the ratios are estimated by bootstrapping and significance level calculated by Wilcoxon Mann Whitney U-Test. The definition of the stars is the following: ‘*’ P < 0.05, ‘**‘P < 0.01, ‘***’ P < 0.001 . Only metabolites that are significantly different in at least one comparison are included. HDL, high density lipoprotein; LDL, low density lipoprotein; VLDL, very low density lipoprotein
Fig. 4
Fig. 4
Boxplot of the sphingomyelins (SM) to phosphatidylcholines (PC) ratios in LDL, VLDL and HDL. Significance based on Wilcoxon Mann Whitney U Test. ***: p-value < 0.001. HDL, high density lipoprotein; LDL, low density lipoprotein; VLDL, very low density lipoprotein

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