Maternal obesity during pregnancy leads to derangements in one-carbon metabolism and the gut microbiota: implications for fetal development and offspring wellbeing

Eleonora Rubini, Nicole Schenkelaars, Melek Rousian, Kevin D. Sinclair, Lieske Wekema, Marijke M. Faas, Régine P.M. Steegers-Theunissen*, Sam Schoenmakers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
18 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

A healthy diet before and during pregnancy is beneficial in acquiring essential B vitamins involved in 1-carbon metabolism, and in maintaining a healthy gut microbiota. Each play important roles in fetal development, immune-system remodeling, and pregnancy-nutrient acquisition. Evidence shows that there is a reciprocal interaction between the one-carbon metabolism and the gut microbiota given that dietary intake of B vitamins has been shown to influence the composition of the gut microbiota, and certain gut bacteria also synthesize B vitamins. This reciprocal interaction contributes to the individual's overall availability of B vitamins and, therefore, should be maintained in a healthy state during pregnancy. There is an emerging consensus that obese pregnant women often have derangements in 1-carbon metabolism and gut dysbiosis owing to high intake of nutritiously poor foods and a chronic systemic inflammatory state. For example, low folate and vitamin B12 in obese women coincide with the decreased presence of B vitamin-producing bacteria and increased presence of inflammatory-associated bacteria from approximately mid-pregnancy. These alterations are risk factors for adverse pregnancy outcomes, impaired fetal development, and disruption of fetal growth and microbiota formation, which may lead to potential long-term offspring metabolic and neurologic disorders. Therefore, preconceptional and pregnant obese women may benefit from dietary and lifestyle counseling to improve their dietary nutrient intake, and from monitoring their B vitamin levels and gut microbiome by blood tests and microbiota stool samples. In addition, there is evidence that some probiotic bacteria have folate biosynthetic capacity and could be used to treat gut dysbiosis. Thus, their use as an intervention strategy for obese women holds potential and should be further investigated. Currently, there are many knowledge gaps concerning the relationship between one-carbon metabolism and the gut microbiota, and future research should focus on intervention strategies to counteract B vitamin deficiencies and gut dysbiosis in obese pregnant women, commencing with the use of probiotic and prebiotic supplements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)392-400
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Volume227
Issue number3
Early online date19 Apr 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the Erasmus Medical Center (Rotterdam), the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement number 812660 and the ZonMw grant Open Competition 2018 (09120011910046). K.D.S. received funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BB/K017810/1).

Funding Information:
This research was funded by the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the Erasmus Medical Center (Rotterdam), the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement number 812660 and the ZonMw grant Open Competition 2018 (09120011910046). K.D.S. received funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BB/K017810/1).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s)

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