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Metabolomic biomarkers and novel dietary factors associated with gestational diabetes in China



Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is impaired glucose tolerance first recognised during pregnancy; its development is associated with many adverse outcomes. Mechanisms of GDM development are not fully elucidated and few studies have used Chinese participants.


The aim of this study was to investigate the maternal metabolome associated with GDM in a Chinese population, and explore the relationship with maternal diet.


Ninety-three participants were recruited at 26–28 weeks’ gestation from Chongqing, China. Maternal urine, serum, and hair metabolomes were analysed using gas and liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry. Dietary intake was assessed using a 96-item food frequency questionnaire.


Of the 1064 metabolites identified, 73 were significantly different between cases and controls (P < 0.05), but only 2-aminobutyric acid had both a p- and q-value < 0.05. A “snack-based-dietary-pattern” was associated with an increased likelihood of GDM (odds ratio 2·1; 95% confidence interval 1.1–3.9). The association remained significant after adjustment for calorie intake but not food volume.


This study provides a comprehensive characterization of the maternal metabolome. The snack-based dietary pattern associated with GDM suggests that timing and frequency of consumption are important factors in the relationship between maternal diet and GDM.

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We acknowledge the LC–MS scientific support provided by Dr. Kai Law. We also thank Xun Mao and Diqi Zhao for the help of data and sample collection.


This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China [Grant Nos. 81571453, 81771607, 81701477, 81650110522] and The 111 Project [Grant No. Yuwaizhuan (2016)32]. The funders were not involved in the study design; in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the article for publication.

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Authors and Affiliations



YX, PB and HZ conceived the idea and designed the study. TZ and XC collected the questionnaires and samples. TH, CC, and JdS analysed the data. XC, JdS, and TH contributed to the writing of the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Hua Zhang.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

Ethical approval was granted by the Ethics committee of the first affiliated hospital of Chongqing Medical University and written informed consent was obtained from all participants.

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Chen, X., de Seymour, J.V., Han, TL. et al. Metabolomic biomarkers and novel dietary factors associated with gestational diabetes in China. Metabolomics 14, 149 (2018).

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  • Gestational diabetes
  • Metabolomics
  • Maternal diet
  • Biomarker