New metabolic biomarkers predict future cardiovascular diseases

Graphic: Heart rate

Phenylalanine and unsaturated fatty acids linked with higher disease risk; © Kaulitzki

Four biomarkers in the blood are indicative of future cardiovascular disease risk independently of known risk factors. This opens up new possibilities for diagnosis and prevention of these diseases, such as heart attack or stroke, reports an international research team headed by Finnish scientists in the journal ‚Circulation‘. Scientists of the Helmholtz Zentrum München contributed to the analysis of the biomarkers.

Blood samples of more than 13,000 apparently healthy people with a mean of 48 to 69 years of age were screened and the health status of these volunteers was followed for over a decade. The team uncovered four new biomarkers that were associated with the risk for cardiovascular diseases, independently of known risk factors (such as high cholesterol or elevated blood pressure).

Higher concentrations of the amino acid phenylalanine and monounsaturated fatty acids were strong predictors of future heart disease. High levels of both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids were linked with lower risk for cardiovascular disease.The scientists hope these new biomarkers can help to better assess the complex molecular processes behind the development of cardiovascular diseases. The improved prediction of cardiovascular risk also suggests better prevention and health care for those affected.

The detection method of these biomarkers is based on NMR-spectroscopy technique, combined with non-targeted metabolomics technique of Liquid Chromatography-tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) at Genome Analysis Center (CAG) at Helmholtz Zentrum München. The LC/MS-MS non-targeted metabolomics platform at GAC HMGU is capable to detect and annotate over 700 molecules and is now being used for metabolic profiling of many metabolomics studies across Europe.

The research was conducted as an international collaboration which includes researchers from Helmholtz Zentrum München, Prof. Dr. Jerzy Adamski and Dr. Anna Artati, GAC. The study was led by the University of Oulu, Finland, further research partners were the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare, the University of Eastern Finland, the University of Turku, the Framingham Heart Study in Boston, US, as well as the University College London, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and the University of Bristol, UK.; Source: Helmholtz Zentrum München