Background: High-throughput profiling of circulating metabolites may improve cardiovascular risk prediction over established risk factors.
Methods and results: We applied quantitative nuclear magnetic resonance metabolomics to identify the biomarkers for incident cardiovascular disease during long-term follow-up. Biomarker discovery was conducted in the National Finnish FINRISK study (n=7256; 800 events). Replication and incremental risk prediction was assessed in the Southall and Brent Revisited (SABRE) study (n=2622; 573 events) and British Women's Health and Heart Study (n=3563; 368 events). In targeted analyses of 68 lipids and metabolites, 33 measures were associated with incident cardiovascular events at P<0.0007 after adjusting for age, sex, blood pressure, smoking, diabetes mellitus, and medication. When further adjusting for routine lipids, 4 metabolites were associated with future cardiovascular events in meta-analyses: higher serum phenylalanine (hazard ratio per standard deviation, 1.18; 95% confidence interval, 1.12-1.24; P=4×10(-10)) and monounsaturated fatty acid levels (1.17; 1.11-1.24; P=1×10(-8)) were associated with increased cardiovascular risk, while higher omega-6 fatty acids (0.89; 0.84-0.94; P=6×10(-5)) and docosahexaenoic acid levels (0.90; 0.86-0.95; P=5×10(-5)) were associated with lower risk. A risk score incorporating these 4 biomarkers was derived in FINRISK. Risk prediction estimates were more accurate in the 2 validation cohorts (relative integrated discrimination improvement, 8.8% and 4.3%), albeit discrimination was not enhanced. Risk classification was particularly improved for persons in the 5% to 10% risk range (net reclassification, 27.1% and 15.5%). Biomarker associations were further corroborated with mass spectrometry in FINRISK (n=671) and the Framingham Offspring Study (n=2289).
Conclusions: Metabolite profiling in large prospective cohorts identified phenylalanine, monounsaturated fatty acids, and polyunsaturated fatty acids as biomarkers for cardiovascular risk. This study substantiates the value of high-throughput metabolomics for biomarker discovery and improved risk assessment.
Keywords: amino acids; biological markers; fatty acids; metabolomics; risk factors.
© 2015 American Heart Association, Inc.