Metabolic Profiles of Obesity in American Indians: The Strong Heart Family Study

PLoS One. 2016 Jul 19;11(7):e0159548. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0159548. eCollection 2016.


Obesity is a typical metabolic disorder resulting from the imbalance between energy intake and expenditure. American Indians suffer disproportionately high rates of obesity and diabetes. The goal of this study is to identify metabolic profiles of obesity in 431 normoglycemic American Indians participating in the Strong Heart Family Study. Using an untargeted liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, we detected 1,364 distinct m/z features matched to known compounds in the current metabolomics databases. We conducted multivariate analysis to identify metabolic profiles for obesity, adjusting for standard obesity indicators. After adjusting for covariates and multiple testing, five metabolites were associated with body mass index and seven were associated with waist circumference. Of them, three were associated with both. Majority of the obesity-related metabolites belongs to lipids, e.g., fatty amides, sphingolipids, prenol lipids, and steroid derivatives. Other identified metabolites are amino acids or peptides. Of the nine identified metabolites, five metabolites (oleoylethanolamide, mannosyl-diinositol-phosphorylceramide, pristanic acid, glutamate, and kynurenine) have been previously implicated in obesity or its related pathways. Future studies are warranted to replicate these findings in larger populations or other ethnic groups.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amino Acids / blood
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Body Mass Index
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Databases, Factual
  • Fasting
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American*
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Male
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Metabolome*
  • Metabolomics / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / blood*
  • Obesity / diagnosis
  • Obesity / ethnology*
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Peptides / blood
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sphingolipids / blood
  • Steroids / blood
  • United States
  • Waist Circumference


  • Amino Acids
  • Blood Glucose
  • Peptides
  • Sphingolipids
  • Steroids