Metabolomics: a search for biomarkers of visceral fat and liver fat content

Sebastiaan Boone, Dennis Mook-Kanamori, Frits Rosendaal, Martin den Heijer, Hildo Lamb, Albert de Roos, Saskia le Cessie, Ko Willems van Dijk, Renée de Mutsert

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15 Citations (Scopus)


INTODUCTION: Excess visceral and liver fat are known risk factors for cardiometabolic disorders. Metabolomics might allow for easier quantification of these ectopic fat depots, instead of using invasive and costly tools such as MRI or approximations such as waist circumference. OBJECTIVE: We explored the potential use of plasma metabolites as biomarkers of visceral adipose tissue (VAT) and hepatic triglyceride content (HTGC). METHODS: We performed a cross-sectional analysis of a subset of the Netherlands Epidemiology of Obesity study. Plasma metabolite profiles were determined using the Biocrates AbsoluteIDQ p150 kit in 176 individuals with normal fasting plasma glucose. VAT was assessed with magnetic resonance imaging and HTGC with proton-MR spectroscopy. We used linear regression to investigate the associations of 190 metabolite variables with VAT and HTGC. RESULTS: After adjustment for age, sex, total body fat, currently used approximations of visceral and liver fat, and multiple testing, three metabolite ratios were associated with VAT. The strongest association was the lysophosphatidylcholines to total phosphatidylcholines (PCs) ratio [- 14.1 (95% CI - 21.7; - 6.6) cm2 VAT per SD of metabolite concentration]. Four individual metabolites were associated with HTGC, especially the diacyl PCs of which C32:1 was the strongest at a 1.31 (95% CI 1.14; 1.51) fold increased HTGC per SD of metabolite concentration. CONCLUSION: Metabolomics may be a useful tool to identify biomarkers of visceral fat and liver fat content that have added diagnostic value over current approximations. Replication studies are required to validate the diagnostic value of these metabolites.
Original languageEnglish
Article number139
Pages (from-to)139
JournalMetabolomics : Official journal of the Metabolomic Society
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019


  • Biomarkers
  • Liver fat
  • Metabolomics
  • Visceral adipose tissue

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