13.07.2018 - 12:45 Author:
Mari Kaunisto

FIMM Monthly Publication Highlight June 2018: Plasma metabolites reveal distinct profiles associating with different metabolic risk factors in monozygotic twin pairs

A research team led by FIMM Group Leader Miina Ollikainen has studied the association between plasma metabolites and metabolic health related variables using twin pairs. Their results show that metabolomics profiling can be used to identify distinct subgroups of individuals that differ by cholesterol measures.


Every month we publish a publication highlight that summarises some of the research taking place at FIMM. 

The results of the work were recently published in International Journal of Obesity.

The main goal of the study was to identify blood metabolite patterns that are associated with different obesity and metabolic health related phenotypes, including adiposity measurements and selected blood lipids.

The research team studied 80 monozygotic twins from two longitudinal population-based Finnish twin cohorts. The Metabolomics Unit of FIMM Technology Centre quantified a total of 111 plasma metabolites. 

When the associations between each of these metabolites and the adiposity and blood biochemistry measures were studied, more than 40 associations were found.

The strongest effects were seen for HDL cholesterol, which was negatively associated with many different metabolites. BMI associated positively with more metabolites than the other studied variables. Interestingly, no associations were seen for total or LDL cholesterol.

The group also assessed whether the studied individuals form separate subgroups based on their metabolite profiles. Metabolite profiling revealed two distinct subgroups of individuals, differing by 32 metabolites, and by total and LDL cholesterol. Thus metabolite profiles consisting of several metabolites proved to be capable of discerning different categories of metabolic health.


These results show that HDL cholesterol is the most comprehensive and sensitive phenotype in our study. Measuring it is sufficient for capturing even small changes in metabolite levels and is hence a suitable detector of early disturbances in metabolic health. Furthermore, we can conclude that metabolites, either individually or as part of a larger profile, are useful biomarkers for metabolic health.

Miina Ollikainen, Group Leader at FIMM


Original publication:

Muniandy M, Velagapudi V, Hakkarainen A, Lundbom J, Lundbom N, Rissanen A, Kaprio J, Pietiläinen KH, Ollikainen M. Plasma metabolites reveal distinct profiles associating with different metabolic risk factors in monozygotic twin pairs. Int J Obes (Lond). 2018 Jun 15. doi: 10.1038/s41366-018-0132-z.



Last updated: 13.07.2018 - 12:57