Associations Between the Serum Metabolome and All-Cause Mortality Among African Americans in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study

Am J Epidemiol. 2016 Apr 1;183(7):650-6. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwv213. Epub 2016 Mar 7.


Early and accurate identification of people at high risk of premature death may assist in the targeting of preventive therapies in order to improve overall health. To identify novel biomarkers for all-cause mortality, we performed untargeted metabolomics in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study. We included 1,887 eligible ARIC African Americans, and 671 deaths occurred during a median follow-up period of 22.5 years (1987-2011). Chromatography and mass spectroscopy identified and quantitated 204 serum metabolites, and Cox proportional hazards models were used to analyze the longitudinal associations with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. Nine metabolites, including cotinine, mannose, glycocholate, pregnendiol disulfate, α-hydroxyisovalerate, N-acetylalanine, andro-steroid monosulfate 2, uridine, and γ-glutamyl-leucine, showed independent associations with all-cause mortality, with an average risk change of 18% per standard-deviation increase in metabolite level (P < 1.23 × 10(-4)). A metabolite risk score, created on the basis of the weighted levels of the identified metabolites, improved the predictive ability of all-cause mortality over traditional risk factors (bias-corrected Harrell's C statistic 0.752 vs. 0.730). Mannose and glycocholate were associated with cardiovascular mortality (P < 1.23 × 10(-4)), but predictive ability was not improved beyond the traditional risk factors. This metabolomic analysis revealed potential novel biomarkers for all-cause mortality beyond the traditional risk factors.

Keywords: all-cause mortality; cardiovascular mortality; metabolomics; risk factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolome*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality*
  • Prospective Studies
  • United States / epidemiology