Genetics, genomics and metabolomics: New insights into maternal metabolism during pregnancy

W. L. Lowe*, J. Karban

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Maternal glucose metabolism during pregnancy differs from the non-gravid state to allow the mother to meet her own and the growing fetus's energy needs. New insights into the mechanisms underlying maternal metabolism during pregnancy are being gained through the use of new 'omics' technologies. This review focuses on the application of genetics/genomics and metabolomics to the study of maternal metabolism during pregnancy. Following the identification of susceptibility genes for Type 2 diabetes through genome-wide association studies, association has been demonstrated of some Type 2 diabetes susceptibility genes with gestational diabetes mellitus, suggesting that the genetic architecture of Type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes are, in part, similar. More recent genome-wide association studies examining maternal metabolism during pregnancy have demonstrated overlap of genes associated with metabolic traits in the gravid and non-gravid population, as well as genes that appear to be relatively unique to pregnancy. Metabolomics has also been used to profile the metabolic state of women during pregnancy through the multiplexed measurement of many low molecular weight metabolites. Measurement of amino acids and conventional metabolites have demonstrated changes in mothers with higher insulin resistance and glucose similar to changes in non-gravid, insulin-resistant populations, suggesting similarities in the metabolic profile characteristic of insulin resistance and hyperglycaemia in pregnant and non-pregnant populations. Metabolomics and genomics are but a few of the now available high-throughput 'omics' technologies. Future studies that integrate data from multiple technologies will allow an integrated systems biology approach to maternal metabolism during pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)254-262
Number of pages9
JournalDiabetic Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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