The relationship between maternal and neonatal umbilical cord plasma homocyst(e)ine suggests a potential role for maternal homocyst(e)ine in fetal metabolism

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1998 Feb;178(2):228-33. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9378(98)80005-7.


Objective: Data on fetal blood homocyst(e)ine concentrations are not available. We tested the hypothesis that homocyst(e)ine crosses the maternal/placental/fetal interphases and is sequestered by the fetus.

Study design: The concentration of homocyst(e)ine was determined at parturition in peripheral venous plasma from 35 nulliparous healthy pregnant women and umbilical arterial and venous plasma from their conceptus.

Results: Findings demonstrated a descending concentration gradient of plasma homocyst(e)ine from maternal vein to umbilical vein and to umbilical artery; the decrease at each interphase approximated 1 micromol/L. The neonate weight and gestational age were inversely related to maternal homocyst(e)ine concentrations.

Conclusion: The umbilical vein to umbilical artery homocyst(e)ine decrement suggests that uptake of homocyst(e)ine occurs in the fetus. The likely incorporation of homocyst(e)ine into the fetal metabolic cycle may implicate maternal homocyst(e)ine as having a potential nutritional role in the fetus. Further studies are required to explain the role of homocyst(e)ine in fetal metabolism and development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood / metabolism*
  • Folic Acid / blood
  • Homocysteine / blood*
  • Homocystine / blood*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Labor, Obstetric
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange*
  • Pregnancy
  • Reference Values
  • Umbilical Arteries
  • Umbilical Veins


  • Homocysteine
  • Homocystine
  • Folic Acid