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Monochorionic-diamniotic twin pregnancies are susceptible to unique complications arising from a single placenta shared by two fetuses. Twin-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) is a constellation of disturbances caused by unequal blood flow within the shared placenta giving rise to a major hemodynamic imbalance between the twins. Here, we applied TTTS as a model to uncover fetal metabolic adaptations to cardiovascular stress. We compared untargeted metabolomic analyses of amniotic fluid samples from severe TTTS cases vs. singleton controls. Amniotic fluid metabolites demonstrated alterations in fatty acid, glucose, and steroid hormone metabolism in TTTS. Among TTTS cases, unsupervised principal component analysis revealed two distinct clusters of disease defined by levels of glucose metabolites, amino acids, urea, and redox status. Our results suggest that the human fetal heart can adapt to hemodynamic stress by modulating its glucose metabolism and identify potential differences in the ability of individual fetuses to respond to cardiovascular stress.


Health sciences, Developmental anatomy, Cardiovascular medicine, Biology of human development



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