Vitamin A and D Absorption in Adults with Metabolic Syndrome versus Healthy Controls: A Pilot Study Utilizing Targeted and Untargeted LC-MS Lipidomics

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2021 Jan;65(2):e2000413. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.202000413. Epub 2020 Dec 7.


Scope: Persons with metabolic syndrome (MetS) absorb less vitamin E than healthy controls. It is hypothesized that absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (FSV) A and D2 would also decrease with MetS status and that trends would be reflected in lipidomic responses between groups.

Methods and results: Following soymilk consumption (501 IU vitamin A, 119 IU vitamin D2 ), the triglyceride-rich lipoprotein fractions (TRL) from MetS and healthy subjects (n = 10 age- and gender-matched subjects/group) are assessed using LC-MS/MS. Absorption is calculated using area under the time-concentration curves (AUC) from samples collected at 0, 3, and 6 h post-ingestion. MetS subjects have ≈6.4-fold higher median vitamin A AUC (retinyl palmitate) versus healthy controls (P = 0.07). Vitamin D2 AUC is unaffected by MetS status (P = 0.48). Untargeted LC-MS lipidomics reveals six phospholipids and one cholesterol ester with concentrations correlating (r = 0.53-0.68; P < 0.001) with vitamin A concentration.

Conclusions: The vitamin A-phospholipid association suggests increased hydrolysis by PLB, PLRP2, and/or PLA2 IB may be involved in the trend in higher vitamin A bioavailability in MetS subjects. Previously observed differences in circulating levels of these vitamins are likely not due to absorption. Alternate strategies should be investigated to improve FSV status in MetS.

Keywords: fat-soluble vitamins; liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry; metabolomics; phospholipids; postprandial absorption.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Diterpenes / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Lipidomics / methods
  • Lipoproteins / blood
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / diet therapy
  • Metabolic Syndrome / metabolism*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Retinyl Esters / blood
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry
  • Triglycerides / blood
  • Vitamin A / pharmacokinetics*
  • Vitamin D / pharmacokinetics*
  • Young Adult


  • Diterpenes
  • Lipoproteins
  • Retinyl Esters
  • Triglycerides
  • lipoprotein triglyceride
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • retinol palmitate