Researchers identify plasma metabolomic markers for the Mediterranean diet among pregnant women

Rather than analyzing the nutritional content of individual foods, previous research has focused on better understanding overall dietary quality, promoting better health and ultimately reducing disease risk. The importance of analyzing dietary patterns is explained.

Recent clinical nutrition This study identifies a panel of blood metabolome markers and metabolites associated with a Mediterranean diet in pregnant women.

study: Metabolome biomarkers of the Mediterranean diet in pregnant individuals: a prospective study. Image Credit: Africa Studios/


The Mediterranean diet includes high consumption of fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, legumes, olive oil and cereals, and low consumption of processed and red meats and sweets. Both high-quality randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and meta-analyses have confirmed the positive neurological and cardiometabolic effects of the Mediterranean diet in various populations, including pregnant women.

To better understand the underlying mechanisms associated with diet and health outcomes, it is important to identify biomarkers of dietary intake to objectively measure dietary patterns. Previous studies on individual biomarkers of single nutrients or foods failed to assess synergistic interactions between different food groups and nutrients. Nevertheless, recent studies using high-throughput, non-targeted metabolomics profiling techniques have been able to identify biomarkers of dietary patterns in a more systematic and comprehensive manner.

Through the quantification of downstream metabolites or small molecules, scientists have elucidated the interactions between nutrients/foods and individual genes. This approach has enabled the identification of new biomarkers or biological pathways associated with individual dietary patterns.

Although several studies have identified blood metabolome biomarkers for the Mediterranean diet in non-pregnant groups, we have found no evidence relevant to the identification of metabolome markers for this healthy eating pattern in the pregnant population. I did.

During pregnancy, women undergo several psychological changes, including changes in their basal metabolic rate, hormone levels, and energy stores. There is a possibility.

About research

The current study included racially diverse pregnant individuals who participated in the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Fetal Growth Study-Singleton Cohort (FGS). rice field.

Study participants were recruited from 12 US-based clinical sites between July 2009 and January 2013. The cohort consisted of 2,802 of hers aged 18 to her 40s. All study participants were within 8 and 13 weeks of gestation.

A total of 186 participants were also included in the current study from a case-control study of nested gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) within the FGS and presented both dietary consumption and plasma metabolomics profiling data. Individual dietary patterns were assessed during the previous 3 months, including preconception and early pregnancy, based on a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire (FFQ).

In the second trimester, dietary intake was determined using the Automated Self-Administered 24-Hour Dietary Recall (ASA24). This data was used to measure adherence to the Mediterranean diet in pregnant women, expressed as the Alternative Mediterranean Score (aMED). Higher scores indicated adherence to the Mediterranean diet.

Scientists are using high-throughput liquid chromatography-quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (LC-QTOF-MS/MS) and gas chromatography-time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GC-TOF-MS) to Targeted metabolomics profiling was performed.

Investigation result

Several plasma metabolomic markers of the Mediterranean diet in pre-conception and early pregnancy or recent diets were identified. A total of 14 metabolites were significantly associated with the Mediterranean diet during both study periods. A polymetabolic panel with good to excellent predictability was identified for the Mediterranean diet in the pregnant population.

Most metabolites associated with the Mediterranean diet include long-chain free fatty acids (linoleic acid, palmitoleic acid, oleic acid, etc.), acylcarnitines (medium/long chain), triglycerides (TG), phosphatidylcholines (PC), etc. contained lipids. glyceryl palmitate, and cholesterol ester (CE). Novel markers such as specific amino acids such as aspartic acid, 3-hydroxybutyric acid, and glycolic acid, sugar alcohols (lyxitol, xylitol, etc.), and organic acids (citric acid, isocitrate, etc.) were also identified. These metabolites could be potential biomarkers for a Mediterranean diet.

CE plasma levels were associated with dietary intake of olive oil, monosaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), and seafood. It has been shown to increase the risk of disease (CVD). Acylcarnitines have been associated with markers of meat and plasma disorders and were associated with diabetes in non-pregnant and pregnant women and the development of CVD in her.

The precise roles of TG and PC individually and in combination in pregnant women are unclear. However, linoleic acid was found to be inversely associated with the Mediterranean diet in pregnant women.


The novel metabolites identified in the current study may provide new information on differences in physiological state between pregnant and non-pregnant populations. Importantly, the current study detected metabolites associated with the Mediterranean diet in pregnant individuals, and further studies are needed to elucidate their associations with pregnancy and fetal outcomes.

Journal reference:

  • Chen, L., Dai, J., Fei, Z., and others. (2023) Metabolome biomarkers of the Mediterranean diet in pregnant individuals: a prospective study. clinical nutritiondoi:10.1016/j.clnu.2023.01.011

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