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Journal Article

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Nutrition and Health Innovation Research Institute / School of Medical and Health Sciences




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Lanuza, F., Meroño, T., Zamora-Ros, R., Bondonno, N. P., Rostgaard-Hansen, A. L., Sánchez-Pla, A., . . . Andres-Lacueva. (2023). Plasma metabolomic profiles of plant-based dietary indices reveal potential pathways for metabolic syndrome associations. Atherosclerosis, 382, article 117285.


Background and aims: Plant-based dietary patterns have been associated with improved health outcomes. This study aims to describe the metabolomic fingerprints of plant-based diet indices (PDI) and examine their association with metabolic syndrome (MetS) and its components in a Danish population. Methods: The MAX study comprised 676 participants (55% women, aged 18-67 y) from Copenhagen. Sociodemographic and dietary data were collected using questionnaires and three 24-h dietary recalls over one year (at baseline, and at 6 and 12 months). Mean dietary intakes were computed, as well as overall PDI, healthful (hPDI) and unhealthful (uPDI) scores, according to food groups for each plant-based index. Clinical variables were also collected at the same time points in a health examination that included complete blood tests. MetS was defined according to the International Diabetes Federation criteria. Plasma metabolites were measured using a targeted metabolomics approach. Metabolites associated with PDI were selected using random forest models and their relationships with PDIs and MetS were analyzed using generalized linear mixed models. Results: The mean prevalence of MetS was 10.8%. High, compared to low, hPDI and uPDI scores were associated with a lower and higher odd of MetS, respectively [odds ratio (95%CI); hPDI: 0.56 (0.43–0.74); uPDI: 1.61 (1.26–2.05)]. Out of 411 quantified plasma metabolites, machine-learning metabolomics fingerprinting revealed 13 metabolites, including food and food-related microbial metabolites, like hypaphorine, indolepropionic acid and lignan-derived enterolactones. These metabolites were associated with all PDIs and were inversely correlated with MetS components (p < 0.05). Furthermore, they had an explainable contribution of 12% and 14% for the association between hPDI or uPDI, respectively, and MetS only among participants with overweight/obesity. Conclusions: Metabolites associated with PDIs were inversely associated with MetS and its components, and may partially explain the effects of plant-based diets on cardiometabolic risk factors.



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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.