A team of scientists from Uppsala University, Karolinska Institutet and Colorado State University have identified novel lipid-derived molecules associated with future coronary heart disease events. The study published in the journal PLOS Genetics examined the metabolic profile of blood samples from more than 3,600 individuals who have been followed for as long as 10 years.
Professor Erik Ingelsson and graduate student Andrea Ganna have used biochemical and bioinformatics approaches to identify small molecules that are the intermediate- or end-products of metabolism. This approach, called metabolomics, has identified two lipid metabolites, lysophosphatidylcholine and sphingomyelin that reduced the risk of developing coronary heart disease in three Swedish population studies. Another lipid metabolite, monoglyceride, was instead associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease.
One of the strengths of this study was that all participants were profiled for both metabolites and genetic variants. Some of the metabolites showed strong association with genetic variants previously associated with coronary heart disease supporting a common underlying molecular mechanism. Another strength was that the results were replicated in studies with different follow-up time, blood partition, age and sex distribution, increasing the generalizability of the findings.