Gestational Insulin Resistance Is Mediated by the Gut Microbiome–Indoleamine 2,3-Dioxygenase Axis

Medha Priyadarshini, Guadalupe Navarro, Derek J. Reiman, Anukriti Sharma, Kai Xu, Kristen Lednovich, Christopher R. Manzella, Md Wasim Khan, Mariana Salas Garcia, Sarah Allard, Barton Wicksteed, George E. Chlipala, Barbara Szynal, Beatriz Penalver Bernabe, Pauline M. Maki, Ravinder K. Gill, Gary H. Perdew, Jack Gilbert, Yang Dai, Brian T. Layden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background & aims: Normal gestation involves a reprogramming of the maternal gut microbiome (GM) that contributes to maternal metabolic changes by unclear mechanisms. This study aimed to understand the mechanistic underpinnings of the GM—maternal metabolism interaction. Methods: The GM and plasma metabolome of CD1, NIH-Swiss, and C57 mice were analyzed with the use of 16S rRNA sequencing and untargeted liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry throughout gestation. Pharmacologic and genetic knockout mouse models were used to identify the role of indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO1) in pregnancy-associated insulin resistance (IR). Involvement of gestational GM was studied with the use of fecal microbial transplants (FMTs). Results: Significant variation in GM alpha diversity occurred throughout pregnancy. Enrichment in gut bacterial taxa was mouse strain and pregnancy time point specific, with the species enriched at gestation day 15/19 (G15/19), a point of heightened IR, being distinct from those enriched before or after pregnancy. Metabolomics revealed elevated plasma kynurenine at G15/19 in all 3 mouse strains. IDO1, the rate-limiting enzyme for kynurenine production, had increased intestinal expression at G15, which was associated with mild systemic and gut inflammation. Pharmacologic and genetic inhibition of IDO1 inhibited kynurenine levels and reversed pregnancy-associated IR. FMT revealed that IDO1 induction and local kynurenine level effects on IR derive from the GM in both mouse and human pregnancy. Conclusions: GM changes accompanying pregnancy shift IDO1-dependent tryptophan metabolism toward kynurenine production, intestinal inflammation, and gestational IR, a phenotype reversed by genetic deletion or inhibition of IDO1. (Gestational Gut Microbiome–IDO1 Axis Mediates Pregnancy Insulin Resistance; EMBL-ENA ID: PRJEB45047.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1675-1689.e11
Issue number6
StatePublished - May 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


Dive into the research topics of 'Gestational Insulin Resistance Is Mediated by the Gut Microbiome–Indoleamine 2,3-Dioxygenase Axis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this