J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2017 Oct;72(10):1352-1359
Laboratory of Epidemiology and Population Sciences, National Institute on Aging, Bethesda, Maryland.
To identify biomarkers of body mass index, body fat, trunk fat, and appendicular lean mass, nontargeted metabolomics was performed in plasma from 319 black men in the Health, Aging and Body Composition study (median age 72 years, median body mass index 26.8 kg/m2). Body mass index was calculated from measured height and weight; percent fat, percent trunk fat, and appendicular lean mass were measured with dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. Pearson partial correlations between body composition measures and metabolites were adjusted for age, study site, and smoking. Out of 350 metabolites, body mass index, percent fat, percent trunk fat, and appendicular lean mass were significantly correlated with 92, 48, 96, and 43 metabolites at p less than .0014. Metabolites most strongly correlated with body composition included carnitine, a marker of fatty acid oxidation (positively correlated), triacylglycerols (positively correlated), and amino acids including branched-chain amino acids (positively correlated except for acetylglycine and serine). Gaussian Graphical Models of metabolites found that 25 lipid metabolites clustered into a single network. Groups of five amino acids, three plasmalogens, and two carnitines were also observed. Findings confirm prior reports of associations between amino acids, lean mass, and fat mass in addition to associations not previously reported. Future studies should consider whether these metabolites are relevant for metabolic disease processes.