Maternal Serum and Placental Metabolomes in Association with Prenatal Phthalate Exposure and Neurodevelopmental Outcomes in the MARBLES Cohort

Metabolites. 2022 Sep 2;12(9):829. doi: 10.3390/metabo12090829.


Prenatal exposure to phthalates, a family of endocrine-disrupting plasticizers, is associated with disruption of maternal metabolism and impaired neurodevelopment. We investigated associations between prenatal phthalate exposure and alterations of both the maternal third trimester serum metabolome and the placental metabolome at birth, and associations of these with child neurodevelopmental outcomes using data and samples from the Markers of Autism Risk in Babies Learning Early Signs (MARBLES) cohort. The third trimester serum (n = 106) and placental (n = 132) metabolomes were investigated using 1H nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Children were assessed clinically for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and cognitive development. Although none of the urinary phthalate metabolite concentrations were associated with maternal serum metabolites after adjustment for covariates, mixture analysis using quantile g-computation revealed alterations in placental metabolites with increasing concentrations of phthalate metabolites that included reduced concentrations of 2-hydoxybutyrate, carnitine, O-acetylcarnitine, glucitol, and N-acetylneuraminate. Child neurodevelopmental outcome was not associated with the third trimester serum metabolome, but it was correlated with the placental metabolome in male children only. Maternal phthalate exposure during pregnancy is associated with differences in the placental metabolome at delivery, and the placental metabolome is associated with neurodevelopmental outcomes in males in a cohort with high familial ASD risk.

Keywords: NMR; autism; phthalates; placenta; prenatal exposure; serum.