Metabolomic architecture of obesity implicates metabolonic lactone sulfate in cardiometabolic disease

Mol Metab. 2021 Dec:54:101342. doi: 10.1016/j.molmet.2021.101342. Epub 2021 Sep 24.


Objective: Identify and characterize circulating metabolite profiles associated with adiposity to inform precision medicine.

Methods: Untargeted plasma metabolomic profiles in the Insulin Resistance Atherosclerosis Family Study (IRASFS) Mexican American cohort (n = 1108) were analyzed for association with anthropometric (body mass index, BMI; waist circumference, WC; waist-to-hip ratio, WHR) and computed tomography measures (visceral adipose tissue, VAT; subcutaneous adipose tissue, SAT; visceral-to-subcutaneous ratio, VSR) of adiposity. Genetic data, inclusive of genome-wide array-based genotyping, whole exome sequencing (WES) and whole genome sequencing (WGS), were evaluated to identify the genetic contributors. Phenotypic and genetic association signals were replicated across ancestries. Transcriptomic data were analyzed to explore the relationship between genetic and metabolomic data.

Results: A partially characterized metabolite, tentatively named metabolonic lactone sulfate (X-12063), was consistently associated with BMI, WC, WHR, VAT, and SAT in IRASFS Mexican Americans (PMA <2.02 × 10-27). Trait associations were replicated in IRASFS African Americans (PAA < 1.12 × 10-07). Expanded analyses revealed associations with multiple phenotypic measures of cardiometabolic health, e.g. insulin sensitivity (SI), triglycerides (TG), diastolic blood pressure (DBP) and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) in both ancestries. Metabolonic lactone sulfate levels were heritable (h2 > 0.47), and a significant genetic signal at the ZSCAN25/CYP3A5 locus (PMA = 9.00 × 10-41, PAA = 2.31 × 10-10) was observed, highlighting a putative functional variant (rs776746, CYP3A5∗3). Transcriptomic analysis in the African American Genetics of Metabolism and Expression (AAGMEx) cohort supported the association of CYP3A5 with metabolonic lactone sulfate levels (PFDR = 6.64 × 10-07).

Conclusions: Variant rs776746 is associated with a decrease in the transcript levels of CYP3A5, which in turn is associated with increased metabolonic lactone sulfate levels and poor cardiometabolic health.

Keywords: Cardiometabolic disease; Metabolomics; Minority populations; Obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lactones / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Sulfates / metabolism*
  • Young Adult


  • Lactones
  • Sulfates