Fructose levels are markedly elevated in cerebrospinal fluid compared to plasma in pregnant women

Janice J. Hwang, Andrea Johnson, Gary Cline, Renata Belfort-Deaguiar, Denis Snegovskikh, Babar Khokhar, Christina S. Han, Robert S. Sherwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Background: Fructose, unlike glucose, promotes feeding behavior in rodents and its ingestion exerts differential effects in the human brain. However, plasma fructose is typically 1/1000th of glucose levels and it is unclear to what extent fructose crosses the blood-brain barrier. We investigated whether local endogenous central nervous system (CNS) fructose production from glucose via the polyol pathway (glucose!sorbitol!fructose) contributes to brain exposure to fructose. Methods: In this observational study, fasting glucose, sorbitol and fructose concentrations were measured using gas-chromatography-liquid mass spectroscopy in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), maternal plasma, and venous cord blood collected from 25 pregnant women (6 lean, 10 overweight/obese, and 9 T2DM/gestational DM) undergoing spinal anesthesia and elective cesarean section. Results: As expected, CSF glucose was ∼60% of plasma glucose levels. In contrast, fructose was nearly 20-fold higher in CSF than in plasma (p < 0.001), and CSF sorbitol was ∼9-times higher than plasma levels (p < 0.001). Moreover, CSF fructose correlated positively with CSF glucose (ρ 0.45, p = 0.02) and sorbitol levels (ρ 0.75, p < 0.001). Cord blood sorbitol was also ∼7-fold higher than maternal plasma sorbitol levels (p = 0.001). There were no differences in plasma, CSF, and cord blood glucose, fructose, or sorbitol levels between groups. Conclusions: These data raise the possibility that fructose may be produced endogenously in the human brain and that the effects of fructose in the human brain and placenta may extend beyond its dietary consumption. Copyright: This is an open access article, free of all

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0128582
JournalPloS one
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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