Women with preterm birth have a distinct cervicovaginal metabolome

Jeny Ghartey, Jamie A. Bastek, Amy G. Brown, Laura Anglim, Michal A. Elovitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Objective Metabolomics has the potential to reveal novel pathways involved in the pathogenesis of preterm birth (PTB). The objective of this study was to investigate whether the cervicovaginal (CV) metabolome was different in asymptomatic women destined to have a PTB compared with term birth. Study Design A nested case-control study was performed using CV fluid collected from a larger prospective cohort. The CV fluid was collected between 20-24 weeks (V1) and 24-28 weeks (V2). The metabolome was compared between women with a spontaneous PTB (n = 10) to women who delivered at term (n = 10). Samples were extracted and prepared for analysis using a standard extraction solvent method. Global biochemical profiles were determined using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry and ultra-performance liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry. An ANOVA was used to detect differences in biochemical compounds between the groups. A false discovery rate was estimated to account for multiple comparisons. Results A total of 313 biochemicals were identified in CV fluid. Eighty-two biochemicals were different in the CV fluid at V1 in those destined to have a PTB compared with term birth, whereas 48 were different at V2. Amino acid, carbohydrate, and peptide metabolites were distinct between women with and without PTB. Conclusion These data suggest that the CV space is metabolically active during pregnancy. Changes in the CV metabolome may be observed weeks, if not months, prior to any clinical symptoms. Understanding the CV metabolome may hold promise for unraveling the pathogenesis of PTB and may provide novel biomarkers to identify women most at risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)776.e1-776.e12
JournalAmerican Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • cervicovaginal metabolome
  • pregnancy
  • preterm birth


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