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Top 5 Metabolomics News Stories of 2019

Top 5 Metabolomics News Stories of 2019 content piece image
We’ve seen some exciting developments in the metabolomics research field throughout 2019. This list details the top five most-read news stories, published on Technology Networks.

Vitamin B12 Inhibits Key Enzyme in Parkinson’s Disease

The LRRK2 enzyme, which is also known internationally by the name "dardarina", the Basque word that means tremor, has become one of the most attractive therapeutic targets for developing new drugs to combat inheritable Parkinson's disease.

A study by scientists at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU)'s Science Park, together with an international research team, revealed that AdoCbl, one of the active forms of vitamin B12, acts as an inhibitor of the kinase activity of LRRK2 in cultured cells and brain tissue. It also significantly prevents the neurotoxicity of the LRRK2 variants associated with Parkinson's in cultured cells of primary rodents, as well as in various genetically modified models used to study this disease.

The authors note that this research "constitutes a huge step forward because it [vitamin B12] is a neuroprotective vitamin in animal models and has a mechanism unlike that of currently existing inhibitors. So, it could be used as a basis to develop new therapies to combat hereditary Parkinson's associated with pathogenic variants of the LRRK2 enzyme".

Published in: Cell Research
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Credit: Pixabay.

Time To Say Goodbye… to the “Household Measure” BMI?

A study published by an international collaboration of academia and industry experts introduced a novel "revolutionary" approach towards personalized and precision biomedicine. The scientists utilized artificial intelligence tools to develop an algorithm that analyzes the human blood plasma lipidome. Using the lipidomic data produced by the novel algorithm, a new "molecular lipidomics BMI" was calculated, which revealed that the molecular BMI was, in several cases, significantly higher than that of the traditional BMI. In one out of seven patients, the lipidomic BMI improved the "classic" morphometric BMI, providing more data on obesity, such as the levels of visceral fat – a harmful fat deposit.

Published in: PLOS Biology
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Popeye’s Spinach Prophecy Was Right: Low Vitamin K Linked to Poor Mobility

Low levels of circulating vitamin K are linked to increased risk of mobility limitation and disability in older adults, identifying a new factor to consider for maintaining mobility and independence in older age, according to a study published by researchers at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University.

The study examined two biomarkers: circulating levels of vitamin K (phylloquinone) and a functional measure of vitamin K (plasma ucMGP). Using participant data from the Health, Aging, and Body Composition Study (Health ABC), the researchers found that older adults with low levels of circulating vitamin K were more likely to develop mobility limitation and disability. The other biomarker, plasma ucMGP, did not show clear associations with mobility limitation and disability.

Published in: The Journals of Gerontology
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Credit: Pixabay.

Researchers Crack the Conundrum of Why We Gain Weight As We Get Older

Researchers at the Karolinska Institute, in collaboration with Uppsala University and the University of Lyon, investigated lipid turnover across the adult life span, or following substantial body weight change, by performing longitudinal analyses of lipid age in human subcutaneous white adipose tissue (WAT). The study sample comprised two cohorts: 54 individuals (10 males and 44 females) that were assessed for an average time of 13 years (ranging from seven to 16 years) and a second cohort of 41 morbidly obese women followed for four to seven years post bariatric surgery.

In both cohorts, subcutaneous abdominal WAT biopsies were taken at baseline and follow-up. To determine lipid age, the 14C/12C ratio in the lipids from the subcutaneous adipocytes was measured, a method known as radiocarbon dating. By assessing the incorporation of 14C into fat cell lipids, the scientists could retrospectively calculate the age and therefore the turnover of lipids during the individual's lifetime. The study results showed that in the cohort of 54 individuals, all subjects (regardless of whether they experienced weight loss or gain) demonstrated decreased lipid turnover in their fat tissue sample. Individuals that did not compensate for the reduction of lipid turnover by consuming fewer calories experienced a weight gain of 20%, on average.

Published in: Nature Medicine
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Genetics Study Suggests Anorexia Nervosa Is At Least Partly a Metabolic Disorder

Over 100 academics worldwide conducted a large-scale genome-wide association study, which identified eight genetic variants linked to anorexia nervosa. The results suggest that the genetic origins of the disorder are both metabolic and psychiatric.

The researchers combined data collected by the Anorexia Nervosa Genetics Initiative and the Eating Disorders Working Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium. The resulting dataset included 16,992 cases of anorexia nervosa and 55,525 controls, from 17 countries across North America, Europe, and Australasia. The key findings include that the genetic basis of anorexia nervosa overlaps with metabolic (including glycemic), lipid (fats), and anthropometric (body measurement) traits, and the study shows that this is independent of genetic effects that influence body mass index (BMI).

Published in: Nature Genetics
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