The Gut Microbiome Regulates Metabolism & Blood Pressure in Pregnancy

Publish Date: 19 April 2017
Author(s): Marloes Dekker Nitert, PhD


Pregnancy is a state of significant change in the metabolic and cardiovascular systems of the mother, which not only affects the infant but also the mother. Dr Dekker Nitert discusses how these changes in some mothers can present a higher risk for developing gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia and Cesarean section delivery in the short term, and developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease later in life. The infant of a mother with gestational diabetes has an increased risk of being born large for gestational age and with hypoglycemia, and an increased risk for obesity and metabolic disease later in life.

Dr Dekker Nitert identifies the gut microbiota as a key regulator of vitamin and short-chain fatty acid metabolism, cholesterol metabolism, and the immune system. She further illustrates that the gut microbiota changes in pregnancy may contribute to the regulation of glucose and lipid metabolism through affecting the levels of metabolic hormones. In early pregnancy, her research shows a negative correlation between the abundance of Odoribacter in the gut microbiota and blood pressure. Manipulation of the composition of the maternal gut microbiota could therefore be a new target for the prevention of pregnancy complications.

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Author Bios

A headshot of Marloes Dekker Nitert

Marloes Dekker Nitert, PhD

The University of Queensland; Brisbane, Australia

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