Identifying the metabolites associated with alcohol consumption may provide insights into the metabolic pathways through which alcohol may affect human health. We studied associations of alcohol consumption with circulating concentrations of 123 metabolites among 2974 healthy participants from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study. Alcohol consumption at recruitment was self-reported through dietary questionnaires. Metabolite concentrations were measured by tandem mass spectrometry (BIOCRATES AbsoluteIDQTM p180 kit). Data were randomly divided into discovery (2/3) and replication (1/3) sets. Multivariable linear regression models were used to evaluate confounder-adjusted associations of alcohol consumption with metabolite concentrations. Metabolites significantly related to alcohol intake in the discovery set (FDR q-value < 0.05) were further tested in the replication set (Bonferroni-corrected p-value < 0.05). Of the 72 metabolites significantly related to alcohol intake in the discovery set, 34 were also significant in the replication analysis, including three acylcarnitines, the amino acid citrulline, four lysophosphatidylcholines, 13 diacylphosphatidylcholines, seven acyl-alkylphosphatidylcholines, and six sphingomyelins. Our results confirmed earlier findings that alcohol consumption was associated with several lipid metabolites, and possibly also with specific acylcarnitines and amino acids. This provides further leads for future research studies aiming at elucidating the mechanisms underlying the effects of alcohol in relation to morbid conditions.
Keywords: acylcarnitines; alcohol; amino acids; lipid metabolites; targeted metabolomics.