To get insight into still elusive pathomechanisms of pediatric obesity and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) we explored the interplay among GC-MS studied urinary metabolomic signature, gut liver axis (GLA) abnormalities, and food preferences (Kid-Med). Intestinal permeability (IP), small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), and homeostatic model assessment-insulin resistance were investigated in forty children (mean age 9.8 years) categorized as normal weight (NW) or obese (body mass index <85th or >95th percentile, respectively) ± ultrasonographic bright liver and hypertransaminasemia (NAFLD). SIBO was increased in all obese children (p = 0.0022), IP preferentially in those with NAFLD (p = 0.0002). The partial least-square discriminant analysis of urinary metabolome correctly allocated children based on their obesity, NAFLD, visceral fat, pathological IP and SIBO. Compared to NW, obese children had (1) higher levels of glucose/1-methylhistidine, the latter more markedly in NAFLD patients; and (2) lower levels of xylitol, phenyl acetic acid and hydroquinone, the latter especially in children without NAFLD. The metabolic pathways of BCAA and/or their metabolites correlated with excess of visceral fat centimeters (leucine/oxo-valerate), and more deranged IP and SIBO (valine metabolites). Urinary metabolome analysis contributes to define a metabolic fingerprint of pediatric obesity and related NAFLD, by identifying metabolic pathways/metabolites reflecting typical obesity dietary habits and GLA perturbations.
Keywords: children; fatty liver; metabolome; obesity; urine.