Blood Metabolic Signatures of Body Mass Index: A Targeted Metabolomics Study in the EPIC Cohort

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Metabolomics is now widely used to characterize metabolic phenotypes associated with lifestyle risk factors such as obesity. The objective of the present study was to explore the associations of body mass index (BMI) with 145 metabolites measured in blood samples in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study. Metabolites were measured in blood from 392 men from the Oxford (UK) cohort (EPIC-Oxford) and in 327 control subjects who were part of a nested case-control study on hepatobiliary carcinomas (EPIC-Hepatobiliary). Measured metabolites included amino acids, acylcarnitines, hexoses, biogenic amines, phosphatidylcholines, and sphingomyelins. Linear regression models controlled for potential confounders and multiple testing were run to evaluate the associations of metabolite concentrations with BMI. 40 and 45 individual metabolites showed significant differences according to BMI variations, in the EPIC-Oxford and EPIC-Hepatobiliary subcohorts, respectively. Twenty two individual metabolites (kynurenine, one sphingomyelin, glutamate and 19 phosphatidylcholines) were associated with BMI in both subcohorts. The present findings provide additional knowledge on blood metabolic signatures of BMI in European adults, which may help identify mechanisms mediating the relationship of BMI with obesity-related diseases.


  • Marion Carayol
  • Michael F. Leitzmann
  • Pietro Ferrari
  • Raul Zamora-Ros
  • David Achaintre
  • Magdalena Stepien
  • Julie A Schmidt
  • Ruth C Travis
  • Kim Overvad
  • Anne Tjønneland
  • Louise Hansen
  • Rudolf Kaaks
  • Tilman Kühn
  • Heiner Boeing
  • Ursula Bachlechner
  • Antonia Trichopoulou
  • Christina Bamia
  • Domenico Palli
  • Claudia Agnoli
  • Rosario Tumino
  • Paolo Vineis
  • Salvatore Panico
  • J Ramón Quirós
  • Emilio Sánchez-Cantalejo
  • José María Huerta
  • Eva Ardanaz
  • Larraitz Arriola
  • Antonio Agudo
  • Jan Nilsson
  • Bas Bueno de Mesquita
  • Petra H. Peeters
  • Nick Wareham
  • Kay-Tee Khaw
  • Mazda Jenab
  • Timothy J Key
  • Augustin Scalbert
  • Sabina Rinaldi
External organisations
  • International Agency for Research on Cancer, World Health Organization
  • University of Oxford
  • Aarhus University
  • Danish Cancer Society Research Center
  • German Cancer Research Centre
  • German Institute of Human Nutrition
  • Hellenic Health Foundation, Athens
  • National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
  • Harvard University
  • Cancer Research and Prevention Institute (ISPO)
  • Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori
  • Imperial College London
  • University of Naples Federico II
  • Instituto de Investigación Biosanitaria de Granada (Granada.ibs)
  • CIBER Epidemiology and Public Health (CIBERESP)
  • Murcia Regional Health Council
  • Health Research Institute of Navarra (IDISNA)
  • Catalan Institute of Oncology
  • National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM)
  • University Medical Center Utrecht
  • University of Malaya
  • University of Cambridge
  • Civic and M.P Arezzo Hospital
  • Public Health Directorate
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology


  • blood, body mass index, metabolic profiling, obesity, targeted metabolome
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3137-3146
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Proteome Research
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Sep 1
Publication categoryResearch