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Compared to normal-weight children, obese or overweight children demonstrated lower concentrations of asymmetric dimethylarginine, γ-aminobutyric acid, and symmetric dimethylarginine, along with higher concentrations of glutamate, threonine, carnitine, and acetylcarnitine.

The underlying biological responses that contribute to the current obesogenic environment in early life remain poorly understood. Despite the worldwide increase in childhood obesity, the pathophysiological mechanisms implicated remain poorly understood. Recent advances in -omics technologies and methods have made it possible to analyze metabolic networks in detail and obtain insight into the complex biological processes underlying obesity. 

The current literature lacks adequate evidence about metabolomics and the microbiome’s role in pediatric obesity. In this study, an integrative multi-omics analysis was performed to identify key molecular biomarkers implicated in early-onset childhood obesity. The findings are published in the journal Heliyon.

Baseline Characteristics of Participants

In this study, 11 children were categorized as overweight or obese, and 39 children were of normal weight. Compared to normal-weight children, obese or overweight children had a greater likelihood of preterm birth and a lower mean social disadvantage index.

Analysis of Serum Metabolome and Gut Microbiome

The most important metabolites associated with obesity included asparagine, glutamic acid, acetylcarnitine, tryptophan, threonine, and carnitine. The most important bacteria associated with obesity included amplicon sequence variants (ASVs) from Lachnospira, Pseudobutyrivibrio, Lactobacillus, and Rothia genera. On the contrary, in normal-weight children, the most important bacteria belonged to the genera Erysipelatoclostridium, Clostridium sensu stricto 1, Hungatella, Roseburia, and Akkermansia, and the most important metabolites were uric acid, asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA), γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), and symmetric dimethylarginine (SDMA).

Association of Obesity With Selected Bacteria and Serum Metabolites

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There was a positive association between higher serum glutamate and the odds of childhood adiposity and a negative association between higher serum GABA and odds of childhood adiposity in overweight or obese children compared to normal-weight children. Pediatric adiposity was positively associated with carnitine, acetylcarnitine, and threonine and negatively associated with ADMA and SDMA. Compared to normal-weight children, there was an inverse association between relative abundance of Akkermansia and Clostridium sensu stricto 1 A and obesity and a positive association between relative abundance of Lactobacillus and Pseudobutyrivibrio ASV and obesity.

Compared to normal-weight children, obese or overweight children demonstrated lower concentrations of ADMA, GABA, and SDMA and higher concentrations of glutamate, threonine, carnitine, and acetylcarnitine. Regarding the gut microbiome, obese or overweight children had a higher abundance of Lactobacillus and Pseudobutyrivibrio genera.

Source

Rafiq, T., Stearns, J. C., Shanmuganathan, M., Azab, S. M., Anand, S. S., Thabane, L., Beyene, J., Williams, N. C., Morrison, K., Teo, K. K., Britz-McKibbin, P., & De Souza, R. J. (2023). Integrative multiomics analysis of infant gut microbiome and serum metabolome reveals key molecular biomarkers of early onset childhood obesity. Heliyon, 9(6), e16651. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.heliyon.2023.e16651