Human fecal metabolome reflects differences in body mass index, physical fitness, and blood lipoproteins in healthy older adults

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This study investigated how body mass index (BMI), physical fitness, and blood plasma lipoprotein levels are related to the fecal metabolome in older adults. The fecal metabolome data were acquired using proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and gas chromatography–mass spectrometry on 163 healthy older adults (65–80 years old, 80 females and 83 males). Overweight and obese subjects (BMI ≥ 27) showed higher levels of fecal amino acids (AAs) (valine, alanine, and phenylalanine) compared to normal-weight subjects (BMI ≤ 23.5). Adults classified in the high-fitness group displayed slightly lower concentrations of fecal short-chain fatty acids, propionic acid, and AAs (methionine, leucine, glutamic acid, and threonine) compared to the low-fitness group. Subjects with lower levels of cholesterol in low-density lipoprotein particles (LDLchol, ≤2.6 mmol/L) displayed higher fecal levels of valine, glutamic acid, phenylalanine, and lactic acid, while subjects with a higher level of cholesterol in high-density lipoprotein particles (HDLchol, ≥2.1 mmol/L) showed lower fecal concentration of isovaleric acid. The results from this study suggest that the human fecal metabolome, which primarily represents undigested food waste and metabolites produced by the gut microbiome, carries important information about human health and should be closely integrated to other omics data for a better understanding of the role of the gut microbiome and diet on human health and metabolism.

Original languageEnglish
Article number717
Issue number11
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This research was funded by the China Scholarship Council (CSC) (CSC201706170084) and the Danish Strategic Research Council/Innovation Foundation Denmark (COUNTERSTRIKE, grant number 4105-00015B).

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments: The present study is part of the Ph.D. work of Mengni Cui and is financially supported by the China Scholarship Council (CSC) and the University of Copenhagen. The authors also wish to thank the financial support through the CALM project (Clinical Trials NCT02115698), which were approved by the Danish Regional Committees of the Capital Region (H-4-2013-070) and support from the Danish Strategic Research Council/Innovation Foundation Denmark. The authors also wish to thank all the involved participants.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authorsLicensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

    Research areas

  • H NMR, BMI, Fitness, GC-MS, Human fecal metabolome, Lipoproteins, SCFA, Signature mapping

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