Maternal/fetal metabolomes appear to mediate the impact of arsenic exposure on birth weight: A pilot study

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Arsenic exposure has been associated with low birth weight. However, the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. Alterations to metabolites may act as causal mediators of the effect of arsenic exposure on low birth weight. This pilot study aimed to explore the role of metabolites in mediating the association of arsenic exposure on infant birth weight. Study samples were selected from a well-established prospectively enrolled cohort in Bangladesh comprising 35 newborns and a subset of 20 matched mothers. Metabolomics profiling was performed on 35 cord blood samples and 20 maternal peripheral blood samples collected during the second trimester of pregnancy. Inorganic arsenic (iAs) exposure was evaluated via cord blood samples and maternal toenail samples collected during the first trimester. Multiple linear regression and mediation analyses were used to explore the relationship between iAs exposure, metabolite alterations, and low birth weight. Cord blood arsenic level was correlated with elevated levels of 17-methylstearate, laurate (12:0) and 4-vinylphenol sulfate along with lower birth weight. Prenatal maternal toenail iAs level was associated with two peripheral blood metabolites (butyrylqlycine and tartarate), which likely contributed to higher cord blood iAs levels both independently and interactively. Findings of this pilot study indicate that both intrauterine and maternal peripheral blood metabolites appear to influence the toxic effect of inorganic arsenic exposure on low birth weight.

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