PLoS One. 2022 Aug 30;17(8):e0272794. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0272794. eCollection 2022.
BACKGROUND: Prenatal phthalates exposures have been related to adiposity in peripuberty in a sex-specific fashion. Untargeted metabolomics analysis to assess circulating metabolites offers the potential to characterize biochemical pathways by which early life exposures influence the development of cardiometabolic risk during childhood and adolescence, prior to becoming evident in clinical markers.
METHODS: Among mother-child dyads from the Early Life Exposure in Mexico to ENvironmental Toxicants (ELEMENT) birth cohort, we measured 9 phthalate metabolites and bisphenol A in maternal spot urine samples obtained during each trimester of pregnancy, corrected for urinary specific gravity and natural log-transformed. In 110 boys and 124 girls aged 8-14 years, we used a mass-spectrometry based untargeted metabolomics platform to measure fasting serum metabolites, yielding 572 annotated metabolites. We estimated the associations between trimester-specific urinary toxicants and each serum metabolite, among all children or stratified by sex and adjusting for child age, BMI z-score, and pubertal onset. We accounted for multiple comparisons using a 10% false discovery rate (q<0.1).
RESULTS: Associations between exposures and metabolites were observed among all children and in sex-stratified analyses (q<0.1). First trimester MEP, MiBP, and MCPP were associated with decreased 2-deoxy-D-glucose among all children. Among girls, third trimester concentrations of MECPP, MEHHP, MEHP, and MCPP were associated with 15, 13, 1, and 10 metabolites, respectively, including decreased choline and increased acylcarnitines and saturated FAs (FA). Among boys, third trimester MIBP was positively associated with 9 features including long chain saturated FAs, and second trimester MBzP was inversely associated with thyroxine.
CONCLUSIONS: Metabolomics biomarkers may reflect sex- and exposure timing-specific responses to prenatal phthalate exposures manifesting in childhood that may not be detected using standard clinical markers of cardiometabolic risk.