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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Metabolomics analysis reveals altered metabolites in lean compared with obese adolescents and additional metabolic shifts associated with hyperinsulinaemia and insulin resistance in obese adolescents: a cross-sectional study

Mullner, Elisabeth; Rohnisch, Hanna E.; von Bromssen, Claudia; Moazzami, Ali A.


Introduction Hyperinsulinaemia and insulin resistance (IR) are strongly associated with obesity and are forerunners of type 2 diabetes. Little is known about metabolic alterations separately associated with obesity, hyperinsulinaemia/IR and impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) in adolescents. Objectives To identify metabolic alterations associated with obesity, hyperinsulinaemia/IR and hyperinsulinaemia/IR combined with IGT in obese adolescents. Methods 81 adolescents were stratified into four groups based on body mass index (lean vs. obese), insulin responses (normal insulin (NI) vs. high insulin (HI)) and glucose responses (normal glucose tolerance (NGT) vs. IGT) after an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). The groups comprised: (1) healthy lean with NI and NGT, (2) obese with NI and NGT, (3) obese with HI and NGT, and (4) obese with HI and IGT. Targeted nuclear magnetic resonance-based metabolomics analysis was performed on fasting and seven post-OGTT plasma samples, followed by univariate and multivariate statistical analyses. Results Two groups of metabolites were identified: (1) Metabolites associated with insulin response level: adolescents with HI (groups 3-4) had higher concentrations of branched-chain amino acids and tyrosine, and lower concentrations of serine, glycine, myo-inositol and dimethylsulfone, than adolescents with NI (groups 1-2). (2) Metabolites associated with obesity status: obese adolescents (groups 2-4) had higher concentrations of acetylcarnitine, alanine, pyruvate and glutamate, and lower concentrations of acetate, than lean adolescents (group 1). Conclusions Obesity is associated with shifts in fat and energy metabolism. Hyperinsulinaemia/IR in obese adolescents is also associated with increased branched-chain and aromatic amino acids.


NMR metabolomics; Hyperinsulinaemia; Insulin resistance; Obesity; Energy metabolism

Published in

2021, Volume: 17, number: 1, article number: 11
Publisher: SPRINGER