Metabolic Regulation of Pre- and Postnatal Growth
Growth characteristics during periods of early developmental plasticity are linked with later health outcomes and with disease risks. Infant growth is modulated by genetic and exogenous factors including nutrition. We try to explore their underlying mechanisms us- ing targeted metabolomic profiling of small molecules in biological samples using high- performance liquid chromatography (LC) coupled to tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) to quantify hundreds of molecules in small biosamples, e.g., 50 μL plasma. In the large German LISA birth cohort study, cord blood lysophosphatidylcholines and fatty acids were closely associated with infant birth weight, with a nonsignificant trend towards an association with infant weight gain and later BMI. Studies in infants randomized to different protein intakes in the European CHOP Study show conventional high protein intakes to markedly increase plasma-indispensable amino acids (AA), particularly branched-chain AA (BCAA), while exceeding the infant’s capacity of BCAA breakdown, and an increase in the dispensable AA tyrosine previously associated with insulin resistance. In a path mod- el analysis of the relationship of infant plasma AA, growth factors, and infant growth, AA were generally found to induce a stronger response of insulin than IGF-I although effects of individual AA were very different. We conclude that targeted improvement in nutrient supply in pregnancy and infancy may offer large opportunities for promoting desirable child growth patterns and long-term health.