Maternal and newborn metabolomic changes associated with urinary polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon metabolite concentrations at delivery: an untargeted approach

Jagadeesh Puvvula, Kathrine E. Manz, Joseph M. Braun, Kurt D. Pennell, Emily A. DeFranco, Shuk Mei Ho, Yuet Kin Leung, Shouxiong Huang, Ann M. Vuong, Stephani S. Kim, Zana P. Percy, Priyanka Bhashyam, Raymund Lee, Dean P. Jones, Vilinh Tran, Dasom V. Kim, Aimin Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Prenatal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) has been associated with adverse human health outcomes. To explore the plausible associations between maternal PAH exposure and maternal/newborn metabolomic outcomes, we conducted a cross-sectional study among 75 pregnant people from Cincinnati, Ohio. Method: We quantified 8 monohydroxylated PAH metabolites in maternal urine samples collected at delivery. We then used an untargeted high-resolution mass spectrometry approach to examine alterations in the maternal (n = 72) and newborn (n = 63) serum metabolome associated with PAH metabolites. Associations between individual maternal urinary PAH metabolites and maternal/newborn metabolome were assessed using linear regression adjusted for maternal and newborn factors while accounting for multiple testing with the Benjamini-Hochberg method. We then conducted functional analysis to identify potential biological pathways. Results: Our results from the metabolome-wide associations (MWAS) indicated that an average of 1% newborn metabolome features and 2% maternal metabolome features were associated with maternal urinary PAH metabolites. Individual PAH metabolite concentrations in maternal urine were associated with maternal/newborn metabolome related to metabolism of vitamins, amino acids, fatty acids, lipids, carbohydrates, nucleotides, energy, xenobiotics, glycan, and organic compounds. Conclusion: In this cross-sectional study, we identified associations between urinary PAH concentrations during late pregnancy and metabolic features associated with several metabolic pathways among pregnant women and newborns. Further studies are needed to explore the mediating role of the metabolome in the relationship between PAHs and adverse pregnancy outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Fetus
  • Metabolome
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
  • Pregnancy
  • Untargeted metabolomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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