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Association of acylcarnitines with maternal cardiometabolic risk factors is defined by chain length: the S-PRESTO study.

CONTEXT: Due to the essential role of carnitine as an intermediary in amino acid, carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, a detailed characterization of circulating and urinary carnitine concentrations will aid in elucidating the molecular basis of impaired maternal metabolic flexibility and facilitating timely intervention for expectant mothers.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the association of maternal plasma and urinary free carnitine and acylcarnitines with cardiometabolic risk factors.

METHODS: LC-MS/MS-based quantification of free carnitine and acylcarnitines (C2-C18) was performed on 765 plasma and 702 urine samples collected at preconception, 26-28 weeks' pregnancy, and three months postpartum in the Singapore PREconception Study of long-Term maternal and child Outcomes (S-PRESTO) cohort study.

RESULTS: Plasma concentrations of free carnitine and acylcarnitines decreased coupled with increased renal clearance in pregnancy compared to preconception and postpartum. Renal clearance of carnitine increased with an increase in pre-pregnancy body mass index (ppBMI) and gestational weight gain. Plasma short-chain acylcarnitines were positively associated with ppBMI, irrespective of the physiological state, while medium- and long-chain acylcarnitines were negatively associated with ppBMI at preconception and postpartum but showed a positive association in pregnancy. Similarly, plasma short-chain acylcarnitines were positively associated with HOMA-IR whereas medium- and long-chain acylcarnitines were negatively associated with HOMA-IR at preconception and in pregnancy. Mothers who developed gestational diabetes mellitus during pregnancy had ∼10% higher plasma propionylcarnitine concentration and ∼18% higher urine tiglylcarnitine concentration compared to mothers with normal glucose metabolism at preconception.

CONCLUSIONS: This study provides the metabolic and physiological basis of maternal carnitine homeostasis, which can be used in assessment of maternal cardiometabolic health at preconception to improve pregnancy outcomes.

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