Metabolomic biomarkers of the mediterranean diet in pregnant individuals: A prospective study

Liwei Chen, Jin Dai, Zhe Fei, Xinyue Liu, Yeyi Zhu, Mohammad L. Rahman, Ruijin Lu, Susanna D. Mitro, Jiaxi Yang, Stefanie N. Hinkle, Zhen Chen, Yiqing Song, Cuilin Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background and aims: Metabolomic profiling is a systematic approach to identifying biomarkers for dietary patterns. Yet, metabolomic markers for dietary patterns in pregnant individuals have not been investigated. The aim of this study was to identify plasma metabolomic markers and metabolite panels that are associated with the Mediterranean diet in pregnant individuals. Methods: This is a prospective study of 186 pregnant individuals who had both dietary intake and metabolomic profiles measured from the Fetal Growth Studies-Singletons cohort. Dietary intakes during the peri-conception/1st trimester and the second trimester were accessed at 8–13 and 16–22 weeks of gestation, respectively. Adherence to the Mediterranean diet was measured by the alternate Mediterranean Diet (aMED) score. Fasting plasma samples were collected at 16–22 weeks and untargeted metabolomics profiling was performed using the mass spectrometry-based platforms. Metabolites individually or jointly associated with aMED scores were identified using linear regression and least absolute shrinkage and selection operator (LASSO) regression models with adjustment for potential confounders, respectively. Results: Among 459 annotated metabolites, 64 and 41 were individually associated with the aMED scores of the diet during the peri-conception/1st trimester and during the second trimester, respectively. Fourteen metabolites were associated with the Mediterranean diet in both time windows. Most Mediterranean diet-related metabolites were lipids (e.g., acylcarnitine, cholesteryl esters (CEs), linoleic acid, long-chain triglycerides (TGs), and phosphatidylcholines (PCs), amino acids, and sugar alcohols. LASSO regressions also identified a 10 metabolite-panel that were jointly associated with aMED score of the diet during the peri-conception/1st trimester (AUC: 0.74; 95% CI: 0.57, 0.91) and a 3 metabolites-panel in the 2nd trimester (AUC: 0.68; 95% CI: 0.50, 0.86). Conclusion: We identified plasma metabolomic markers for the Mediterranean diet among pregnant individuals. Some of them have also been reported in previous studies among non-pregnant populations, whereas others are novel. The results from our study warrant replication in pregnant individuals by future studies. Clinical trial registration number: This study was registered at

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)384-393
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Nutrition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • Dietary patterns
  • Mediterranean diet
  • Metabolomics
  • Plasma biomarkers
  • Pregnant individuals


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