Metabolic Dynamics and Prediction of Gestational Age and Time to Delivery in Pregnant Women

Cell. 2020 Jun 25;181(7):1680-1692.e15. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2020.05.002.


Metabolism during pregnancy is a dynamic and precisely programmed process, the failure of which can bring devastating consequences to the mother and fetus. To define a high-resolution temporal profile of metabolites during healthy pregnancy, we analyzed the untargeted metabolome of 784 weekly blood samples from 30 pregnant women. Broad changes and a highly choreographed profile were revealed: 4,995 metabolic features (of 9,651 total), 460 annotated compounds (of 687 total), and 34 human metabolic pathways (of 48 total) were significantly changed during pregnancy. Using linear models, we built a metabolic clock with five metabolites that time gestational age in high accordance with ultrasound (R = 0.92). Furthermore, two to three metabolites can identify when labor occurs (time to delivery within two, four, and eight weeks, AUROC ≥ 0.85). Our study represents a weekly characterization of the human pregnancy metabolome, providing a high-resolution landscape for understanding pregnancy with potential clinical utilities.

Keywords: delivery prediction; gestational age; human pregnancy; longitudinal profiling; machine learning; metabolic clock; metabolic pathways; metabolomics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Female
  • Fetus / metabolism
  • Gestational Age*
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways / physiology
  • Metabolome / physiology
  • Metabolomics / methods*
  • Pregnancy / metabolism*
  • Pregnant Women


  • Biomarkers