Blood plasma metabolic profiling of pregnant women with antenatal depressive symptoms

Transl Psychiatry. 2019 Aug 23;9(1):204. doi: 10.1038/s41398-019-0546-y.


Antenatal depression affects ~9-19% of pregnant women and can exert persistent adverse effects on both mother and child. There is a need for a deeper understanding of antenatal depression mechanisms and the development of tools for reliable diagnosis and early identification of women at high risk. As the use of untargeted blood metabolomics in the investigation of psychiatric and neurological diseases has increased substantially, the main objective of this study was to investigate whether untargeted gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) plasma metabolomics in 45 women in late pregnancy, residing in Uppsala, Sweden, could indicate metabolic differences between women with and without depressive symptoms. Furthermore, seasonal differences in the metabolic profiles were explored. When comparing the profiles of cases with controls, independently of season, no differences were observed. However, seasonal differences were observed in the metabolic profiles of control samples, suggesting a favorable cardiometabolic profile in the summer vs. winter, as indicated by lower glucose and sugar acid concentrations and lactate to pyruvate ratio, and higher abundance of arginine and phosphate. Similar differences were identified between cases and controls among summer pregnancies, indicating an association between a stressed metabolism and depressive symptoms. No depression-specific differences were apparent among depressed and non-depressed women, in the winter pregnancies; this could be attributed to an already stressed metabolism due to the winter living conditions. Our results provide new insights into the pathophysiology of antenatal depression, and warrant further investigation of the use of metabolomics in antenatal depression in larger cohorts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Metabolome
  • Metabolomics
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / metabolism*
  • Pregnancy Complications / psychology
  • Sweden