Association of Plasma Small-Molecule Intermediate Metabolites With Age and Body Mass Index Across Six Diverse Study Populations

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Abstract

Background:

Older age and obesity are associated with metabolic dysregulation; the mechanism by which these factors impact metabolism across the lifespan is important, but relatively unknown. We evaluated a panel of amino acids (AAs) and acylcarnitines (ACs) to identify effects of age and adiposity (body mass index) on circulating small-molecule metabolites in a meta-analysis of six diverse study populations.

Methods:

Targeted metabolic profiling was performed in six independent studies, representing 739 subjects with a broad range of age, body mass index, health states, and ethnic origin. Principal components analysis was performed on log-normalized values for AAs and ACs separately, generating one AC factor and two AA factors for each study. A common AC factor consisted primarily of acetylcarnitine, medium-chain AC, and several long-chain AC. AA Factor 1 consisted primarily of large neutral AAs. Glycine was its own factor.

Results:

Metabolic profiling and factor analysis identified clusters of related metabolites of lipid and AA metabolism that were consistently associated with age and body mass in a series of studies with a broad range of age, body mass index, and health status. An inverse association of glycine with body mass index and male gender supports its role as a marker of favorable metabolic health.

Conclusions:

An important focus of future investigations should be to determine whether these clusters of metabolic intermediates are possible early predictors of health outcomes associated with body mass; are involved with accelerated aging; are involved in the causative pathway of aging; and how modification of these metabolic pathways impact the biology of aging.

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