Lipid Metabolism During Pregnancy and its Implications for Fetal Growth

ISSN: 1873-4316 (Online)
ISSN: 1389-2010 (Print)

Volume 16, 12 Issues, 2015

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Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology

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Zeno Foldes-Papp
Visiting Professor of Medical Biochemistry
HELIOS Clinical Center of Emergency Medicine
Department for Internal Medicine
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D-51688 Koeln-Wipperfuerth

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Lipid Metabolism During Pregnancy and its Implications for Fetal Growth

Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, 15(1): 24-31.

Author(s): Emilio Herrera and Henar Ortega-Senovilla.

Affiliation: Universidad San Pablo CEU, Ctra. Boadilla del Monte km 5.3, 28668 Madrid, Spain.


More glucose crosses the placenta than any other substrate, but correlations between its concentration in maternal plasma and fetal growth are not found consistently. The accumulation of maternal fat depots and hyperlipidemia are the two principal changes in lipid metabolism during pregnancy. Although lipids cross the placenta with difficulty, maternal plasma triacylglycerols (TAG) and non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA) correlate with fetal lipids, fetal growth and fat mass under certain conditions. In intrauterine growth restriction, impaired placental transfer of lipophilic compounds (long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and lipophilic vitamins) seems to underpin metabolic dysfunction and decreased birth weight. In gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), maternal TAG and NEFA levels correlate with neonatal anthropometric measures. In GDM, adipocyte fatty acid-binding protein in fetuses correlated with neonatal fat mass; changes in maternal or cord blood leptin, retinol binding protein 4 and adiponectin concentrations have been related to neonatal fat mass or birth weight, although their importance remains to be investigated. The angiopoietin-like protein 4 (ANGPTL-4) is secreted from adipose tissue, liver and placenta, and irreversibly inhibits lipoprotein lipase (LPL) activity. Maternal plasma ANGPTL-4 is decreased in GDM, and it has been proposed to be responsible for an increase in placental LPL activity, which would facilitate a greater fatty acid placental transfer, contributing to the higher fetal fat accumulation. Thus, while evidence suggesting major involvement of maternal lipid metabolism in fetal adiposity and growth exists, the precise mechanisms remain to be elucidated.


Adipocytokines, adipose tissue, gestational diabetes mellitus, hyperlipidemia, intrauterine growth restriction, nonesterified fatty acids, placenta, pregnancy.

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Article Details

Volume: 15
Issue Number: 1
First Page: 24
Last Page: 31
Page Count: 8
DOI: 10.2174/1389201015666140330192345

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