B4607 - Cholesterol triglyceride and fatty acid trajectories throughout pregnancy and the association with pregnancy outcomes - 13/05/2024

B number: 
Principal applicant name: 
Matthew Elmes | University of Nottingham (United Kingdom)
Professor Laila Tata
Title of project: 
Cholesterol, triglyceride and fatty acid trajectories throughout pregnancy and the association with pregnancy outcomes.
Proposal summary: 

In rich countries, over 30% of mums to be face problems when having a baby. These can be things like having a long labour, giving birth too early, getting dangerously high blood pressure called preeclampsia, or having diabetes during pregnancy. As so many women go through these pregnancy complications, it has become very important to find a way to see who might have problems during pregnancy before they happen. Right now, we do not fully know why these problems happen, but think it has something to do with certain types of fats in the body, called lipids.

We know that during pregnancy the lipids, cholesterol, triglycerides and fatty acids rise, reaching far higher levels than a non-pregnant women and return to normal following delivery. The rise in cholesterol, triglycerides and fatty acids occur to help support foetal growth and development but also help control the time at which the baby is delivered. Recently, imbalances in HDL, LDL, cholesterol, triglycerides, and free fatty acids during pregnancy have been shown to be linked to pregnancy complications including gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, premature birth and dysfunctional labour.

We know what levels of lipids are considered too high in non-pregnant women, but we know very little about what the normal lipid level changes are during pregnancy. We know lipids rise, but very few studies have investigated their trajectories to consider what would be considered too low or high. We also don’t know whether lipid changes outside the normal pregnancy range are related to common pregnancy complications.

We will answer these questions using the ALSPAC cohort. The results will be extremely important for pregnant populations, as we will determine the lipid changes that occur during pregnancy but also lipid patterns that may predict pregnancy or childbirth complications.

Impact of research: 
This will be one of the first studies to characterise in detail the normal lipid profile changes that occur during pregnancy and that this information will fill an important gap in knowledge that could help develop blood lipid reference values during pregnancy that would be impactful worldwide. As well as providing valuable information for health care professionals and the pregnant women they care for, this useful blood lipid information will also be used to help predict the clinical risk of developing pregnancy and child birth complications. This would allow early detection and management of any lipid abnormalities to optimize pregnancy outcomes, possibly via personalized dietary or pharmacological intervention. By the end of the 3-year WoW research project, we aim to provide clearer evidence on the trajectories for cholesterol (total, HDL and LDL), triglyceride and fatty acids appropriate for a healthy pregnancy, but also identify the lipid patterns associated with complications. This study may also provide evidence to support lipid screening during pregnancy, and development of risk prediction tools for adverse pregnancy outcomes.
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 2 May, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 13 May, 2024
Biochemistry/structural biology, Pregnancy - e.g. reproductive health, postnatal depression, birth outcomes, etc., Statistical methods, Biological samples -e.g. blood, cell lines, saliva, etc., Biomarkers - e.g. cotinine, fatty acids, haemoglobin, etc., Birth outcomes, BMI, Mothers - maternal age, menopause, obstetrics, Statistical methods