Metabolomic Salivary Signature of Pediatric Obesity Related Liver Disease and Metabolic Syndrome

Nutrients. 2019 Jan 26;11(2):274. doi: 10.3390/nu11020274.


Pediatric obesity-related metabolic syndrome (MetS) and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) are increasingly frequent conditions with a still-elusive diagnosis and low-efficacy treatment and monitoring options. In this study, we investigated the salivary metabolomic signature, which has been uncharacterized to date. In this pilot-nested case-control study over a transversal design, 41 subjects (23 obese patients and 18 normal weight (NW) healthy controls), characterized based on medical history, clinical, anthropometric, and laboratory data, were recruited. Liver involvement, defined according to ultrasonographic liver brightness, allowed for the allocation of the patients into four groups: obese with hepatic steatosis ([St+], n = 15) and without hepatic steatosis ([St⁻], n = 8), and with (n = 10) and without (n = 13) MetS. A partial least squares discriminant analysis (PLS-DA) model was devised to classify the patients' classes based on their salivary metabolomic signature. Pediatric obesity and its related liver disease and metabolic syndrome appear to have distinct salivary metabolomic signatures. The difference is notable in metabolites involved in energy, amino and organic acid metabolism, as well as in intestinal bacteria metabolism, possibly reflecting diet, fatty acid synthase pathways, and the strict interaction between microbiota and intestinal mucins. This information expands the current understanding of NAFLD pathogenesis, potentially translating into better targeted monitoring and/or treatment strategies in the future.

Keywords: gas-chromatography mass spectrometry; metabolic syndrome; metabolomics; nonalcoholic fatty liver disease; pediatric obesity; saliva.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Discriminant Analysis
  • Female
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Glucose / analysis
  • Humans
  • Insulin / analysis
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / metabolism*
  • Metabolome / physiology*
  • Metabolomics
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / metabolism*
  • Pediatric Obesity / metabolism*
  • Saliva / chemistry*


  • Insulin
  • Glucose