Meeting-in-the-middle using metabolic profiling - a strategy for the identification of intermediate biomarkers in cohort studies

Biomarkers. 2011 Feb;16(1):83-8. doi: 10.3109/1354750X.2010.533285. Epub 2010 Nov 29.


Background: Predictive disease risk biomarkers that can be linked to exposure have proved difficult to identify in case-control studies.

Methods: Parallel statistical analysis of the correlation between (1)H NMR profiles from plasma samples collected before disease onset (EPIC cohort), versus exposure to dietary compounds, and follow-up disease endpoints (colon and breast cancer) was performed.

Results: Metabonomic signatures associated with colon cancer and dietary fiber intake (a protective factor according to epidemiological studies) were identified.

Conclusion: This implementation of the novel "meet-in-the-middle" analytical strategy indicates how case-control studies nested in prospectively collected cohorts may reveal intermediate biomarkers linking exposure and disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • Breast Neoplasms / blood
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / blood
  • Colonic Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Diet / statistics & numerical data
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fiber / statistics & numerical data
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Epidemiologic Research Design*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Metabolome*
  • Molecular Epidemiology
  • Plasma / chemistry
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects


  • Biomarkers
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Dietary Proteins