Objective To determine associations of systemic metabolites with subclinical atherosclerosis.
Methods 4407 serum samples were measured by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy from the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study, and carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) was assessed by ultrasound. Numerous lipoprotein lipids subclasses as well as low-molecular-weight metabolites were quantified from the NMR data.
Results In these young adults (aged 24–45 years) data-driven analysis using self-organising maps showed distinct metabolic phenotypes associated with elevated IMT. The phenotypes were characterised by varying combinations of metabolic disturbances including elevated very-low-density lipoprotin (VLDL) and LDL subclasses, but also several low-molecular-weight metabolites. Results for 6-year incidence of high carotid IMT and IMT progression as shown by discrimination and reclassification will also be discussed.
Conclusion The study showed different metabolic phenotypes inherently associated with subclinical atherosclerosis. Prediction of subclinical atherosclerosis was improved by comprehensive metabolic profiling. The findings substantiate developments towards the use of multi-metabolic risk phenotypes in cardiovascular risk assessment.