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Gestational diabetes mellitus is associated with distinct folate-related metabolites in early and mid-pregnancy: A prospective cohort study.

AIMS: This study aimed to evaluate the association between gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) and circulating folate metabolites, folic acid (FA) intake, and the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) and methionine synthase reductase (MTRR) genotype.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A prospective pregnancy cohort study was conducted in Beijing, China, from 2022 to 2023. Circulating folate metabolites, including red blood cell (RBC) 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF), 5, 10-methylene-tetrahydrofolate (5,10-CH2-THF), 5- formyltetrahydrofolate (5-CHO-THF), and unmetabolised folic acid (UMFA), and plasma homocysteine (HCY), 5-MTHF, and methylmalonic acid (MMA), were determined at 6-17 weeks and 20-26 weeks of gestation. FA intake and the MTHFR and MTRR genotype were also examined. GDM was diagnosed between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy by a 75-g oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). The association between the folate status and GDM was ascertained using multivariate generalised linear models, logistic regression models, and restricted cubic spline regression, adjusting for potential confounders.

RESULTS: The study included 2032 pregnant women, of whom 392 (19.29%) developed GDM. UMFA above the 75th percentile (≥P75) [adjusted OR (aOR) (95% confidence interval [CI]) = 1.36 (1.01-1.84)], UMFA ≥ P90 [aOR (95% CI) = 1.82 (1.23-2.69)], and HCY ≥ P75 [aOR (95% CI) = 1.40 (1.04-1.88)] in early pregnancy, and RBC 5-MTHF [aOR (95% CI) = 1.48 (1.10-2.00)], RBC 5,10-CH2-THF [aOR (95% CI) = 1.55 (1.15-2.10)], and plasma 5-MTHF [aOR (95% CI) = 1.36 (1.00-1.86)] in mid-pregnancy ≥ P75 are associated with GDM. Higher UMFA levels in early pregnancy show positive associations with the 1-h and 2-h glucose levels during the OGTT, and higher HCY levels are associated with increased fasting glucose levels during the OGTT. In comparison, RBC 5- MTHF and 5,10-CH2-THF, and plasma 5- MTHF in mid-pregnancy are positively associated with the 1-h glucose level (p < 0.05). The MTHFR and MTRR genotype and FA intake are not associated with GDM.

CONCLUSIONS: Elevated levels of UMFA and HCY during early pregnancy, along with elevated RBC 5-MTHF and 5,10-CH2-THF and plasma 5-MTHF during mid-pregnancy, are associated with GDM. These findings indicate distinct connections between different folate metabolites and the occurrence of GDM.

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