Differential Distribution of Tryptophan-Metabolites in Fetal and Maternal Circulations During Normotensive and Preeclamptic Pregnancies

Ying jie Zhao, Chi Zhou, Ying ying Wei, Hui hui Li, Wei Lei, Derek S. Boeldt, Kai Wang, Jing Zheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Preeclampsia (PE) is a hypertensive pregnancy, which is a leading cause of maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality during pregnancy. L-Tryptophan (Trp) is an essential amino acid, which can be metabolized into various biologically active metabolites. However, the levels of many circulating Trp-metabolites in human normotensive pregnancies (NT) and PE are undetermined. This study quantified the levels of Trp-metabolites in maternal and umbilical vein sera from women with NT and PE. Paired maternal and umbilical blood samples were collected from singleton pregnant patients. Twenty-five Trp-metabolites were measured in serum samples using liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry. The effects of L-kynurenine (Kyn) and indole-3-lactic acid (ILA), on function of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs), were also determined. Twenty Trp-metabolites were detected. The levels of 9 Trp-metabolites including Kyn and ILA were higher (P < 0.05) in umbilical vein than maternal serum, whereas 2 (5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan and serotonin) were lower (P < 0.05) in umbilical vein compared to maternal serum. PE significantly (P < 0.05) elevated ILA levels in maternal and umbilical vein sera. Kyn dose-dependently decreased (P < 0.05) cell viability. Kyn and ILA dose- and time-dependently (P < 0.05) increased monolayer integrity in HUVECs. These data suggest that these Trp-metabolites are important in regulating endothelial function during pregnancy, and the elevated ILA in PE may antagonize increased endothelial permeability occurring in PE.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1278-1286
Number of pages9
JournalReproductive Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • Circulations
  • Endothelial function
  • Preeclampsia
  • Pregnancy
  • Tryptophan-metabolites

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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