2021 journal article
An enriched biosignature of gut microbiota-dependent metabolites characterizes maternal plasma in a mouse model of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder
SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 11(1).
Abstract Prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) causes permanent cognitive disability. The enteric microbiome generates microbial-dependent products (MDPs) that may contribute to disorders including autism, depression, and anxiety; it is unknown whether similar alterations occur in PAE. Using a mouse PAE model, we performed untargeted metabolome analyses upon the maternal–fetal dyad at gestational day 17.5. Hierarchical clustering by principal component analysis and Pearson’s correlation of maternal plasma (813 metabolites) both identified MDPs as significant predictors for PAE. The majority were phenolic acids enriched in PAE. Correlational network analyses revealed that alcohol altered plasma MDP-metabolite relationships, and alcohol-exposed maternal plasma was characterized by a subnetwork dominated by phenolic acids. Twenty-nine MDPs were detected in fetal liver and sixteen in fetal brain, where their impact is unknown. Several of these, including 4-ethylphenylsulfate, oxindole, indolepropionate, p-cresol sulfate, catechol sulfate, and salicylate, are implicated in other neurological disorders. We conclude that MDPs constitute a characteristic biosignature that distinguishes PAE. These MDPs are abundant in human plasma, where they influence physiology and disease. Their altered abundance here may reflect alcohol’s known effects on microbiota composition and gut permeability. We propose that the maternal microbiome and its MDPs are a previously unrecognized influence upon the pathologies that typify PAE.