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Serum metabolite profiles of habitual diet: evaluation by H-1-nuclear magnetic resonance analysis

Journal article
Authors Helen Lindqvist
Millie Rådjursöga
Daniel Malmodin
Anna Winkvist
L. Ellegard
Published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Volume 110
Issue 1
Pages 53-62
ISSN 0002-9165
Publication year 2019
Published at Swedish NMR Centre at Göteborg University
Institute of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine and Clinical Nutrition
Pages 53-62
Language en
Keywords habitual diet, vegan, vegetarian, omnivore, meat, metabolomics, H-1-NMRs, amino-acids, trimethylamine, creatine, metabolomics, vegetarians, kinetics, humans, Nutrition & Dietetics
Subject categories Endocrinology and Diabetes


Background: Objective and reliable methods to measure dietary exposure and prove associations and causation between diet and health are desirable. Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate if H-1-nuclear magnetic resonance (H-1-NMR) analysis of serum samples may be used as an objective method to discriminate vegan, vegetarian, and omnivore diets. Specifically, the aim was to identify a metabolite pattern that separated meat-eaters from non-meat-eaters and vegans from nonvegans. Methods: Healthy volunteers (45 men and 75 women) complying with habitual vegan (n = 43), vegetarian (n = 24 + vegetarians adding fish n = 13), or omnivore (n = 40) diets were enrolled in the study. Data were collected on clinical phenotype, body composition, lifestyle including a food-frequency questionnaire (FFQ), and a 4-d weighed food diary. Serum samples were analyzed by routine clinical test and for metabolites by H-1-NMR spectroscopy. NMR data were nonnormalized, UV-scaled, and analyzed with multivariate data analysis [principal component analysis, orthogonal projections to latent structures (OPLS) and OPLS with discriminant analysis]. In the multivariate analysis volunteers were assigned as meat-eaters (omnivores), non-meat-eaters (vegans and vegetarians), vegans, or nonvegans (lacto-ovo-vegetarians, vegetarians adding fish, and omnivores). Metabolites were identified by line-fitting of 1D H-1-NMR spectra and the use of statistical total correlation spectroscopy. Results: Although many metabolites differ in concentration between men and women as well as by age, body mass index, and body composition, it was possible to correctly classify 97.5% of the meat-eaters compared with non-meat-eaters and 92.5% of the vegans compared with nonvegans. The branched-chain amino acids, creatine, lysine, 2-aminobutyrate, glutamine, glycine, trimethylamine, and 1 unidentified metabolite were among the most important metabolites in the discriminating patterns in relation to intake of both meat and other animal products. Conclusions: H-1-NMR serum metabolomics appears to be a possible objective tool to identify and predict habitual intake of meat and other animal products in healthy subjects. These results should be confirmed in larger cohort studies or intervention trials. This trial was registered at as NCT02039609.

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