Intrauterine environmental factors can be associated with perinatal complications and long-term health outcomes although the underlying mechanisms remain poorly defined. Meconium formed exclusively in utero and passed naturally by a neonate may contain proteins which characterise the intrauterine environment. The aim of the study was proteomic analysis of the composition of meconium proteins and their classification by biological function. Proteomic techniques combining isoelectrofocussing fractionation and LC-MS/MS analysis were used to study the protein composition of a meconium sample obtained by pooling 50 serial meconium portions from 10 healthy full-term neonates. The proteins were classified by function based on the literature search for each protein in the PubMed database. A total of 946 proteins were identified in the meconium, including 430 proteins represented by two or more peptides. When the proteins were classified by their biological function the following were identified: immunoglobulin fragments and enzymatic, neutrophil-derived, structural and fetal intestine-specific proteins. Meconium is a rich source of proteins deposited in the fetal intestine during its development in utero. A better understanding of their specific biological functions in the intrauterine environment may help to identify these proteins which may serve as biomarkers associated with specific clinical conditions/diseases with the possible impact on the fetal development and further health consequences in infants, older children and adults.
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