Identification of serum analytes and metabolites associated with aerobic capacity

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2013 May;113(5):1311-20. doi: 10.1007/s00421-012-2555-x. Epub 2012 Nov 27.


Studies aimed at identifying serum markers of cellular metabolism (biomarkers) that are associated at baseline with aerobic capacity (VO₂max) in young, healthy individuals have yet to be reported. Therefore, the goal of the present study was to use the standard chemistry screen and untargeted mass spectrometry (MS)-based metabolomic profiling to identify significant associations between baseline levels of serum analytes or metabolites with VO₂max (77 subjects, age range 18-35 years). Use of multivariable linear regression identified three analytes (standard chemistry screen) and twenty-three metabolites (MS-based metabolomics) containing significant, sex-adjusted associations with VO₂max. In addition, fourteen metabolites were found to contain sex-specific associations with aerobic capacity. Subsequent stepwise multivariable linear regression identified the combination of SGOT, 4-ethylphenylsulfate, tryptophan, γ-tocopherol, and α-hydroxyisovalerate as overall, sex-adjusted baseline predictors of VO₂max (adjusted R(2) = 0.66). However, the results of the stepwise model were found to be sensitive to outliers; therefore, random forest (RF) regression was performed. Use of RF regression identified a combination of seven covariates that explained 57.6 % of the variability inherent in VO₂max. Furthermore, inclusion of significant analytes, metabolites and sex-specific metabolites into a stepwise regression model identified the combination of five metabolites in males and seven metabolites in females as being able to explain 80 and 58 % of the variability inherent in VO₂max, respectively. In conclusion, the evidence presented in the current report is the first attempt to identify baseline serum biomarkers that are significantly associated with VO₂max in young, healthy adult humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anaerobic Threshold / physiology*
  • Blood Chemical Analysis
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolome*
  • Sex Factors