Maternal metabolism influences neural tube closure

Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2023 Sep;34(9):539-553. doi: 10.1016/j.tem.2023.06.005. Epub 2023 Jul 17.


Changes in maternal nutrient availability due to diet or disease significantly increase the risk of neural tube defects (NTDs). Because the incidence of metabolic disease continues to rise, it is urgent that we better understand how altered maternal nutrient levels can influence embryonic neural tube development. Furthermore, primary neurulation occurs before placental function during a period of histiotrophic nutrient exchange. In this review we detail how maternal metabolites are transported by the yolk sac to the developing embryo. We discuss recent advances in understanding how altered maternal levels of essential nutrients disrupt development of the neuroepithelium, and identify points of intersection between metabolic pathways that are crucial for NTD prevention.

Keywords: folate; glucose; maternal–fetal communication; neural tube; yolk sac.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Folic Acid* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Neural Tube / metabolism
  • Neural Tube Defects* / etiology
  • Neural Tube Defects* / metabolism
  • Neural Tube Defects* / prevention & control
  • Neurulation
  • Placenta / metabolism
  • Pregnancy


  • Folic Acid