Pregnancy presents a unique physiological challenge that requires changes coordinated by placentally and non-placentally derived hormones to prepare the mother for the metabolic stress presented by fetal development and to ensure appropriate nutrient allocation between mother and fetus. Of particular importance is the maintenance of normal glucose metabolism during pregnancy. Here, we describe physiological changes in glucose metabolism during pregnancy and highlight new insights into these adaptations that have emerged over the past decade using novel methodologies, specifically genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and metabolomics. While GWAS have identified some novel associations with metabolic traits during pregnancy, the majority of the findings overlap with those observed in nonpregnant populations and individuals with type 2 diabetes (T2D). Metabolomics studies have provided new insight into key metabolites involved in gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). Both of these approaches have suggested that a strong link exists between GDM and T2D. Most recently, a role of the gut microbiome in pregnancy has been observed, with changes in the microbiome during the third trimester having metabolic consequences for the mother. In this Perspectives in Diabetes article, we highlight how these new data have broadened our understanding of gestational metabolism, and emphasize the importance of future studies to elucidate differences between GDM and T2D.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Internal Medicine
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism