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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 537157, 10 pages
Research Article

NMR-Based Metabolomic Profiling of Overweight Adolescents: An Elucidation of the Effects of Inter-/Intraindividual Differences, Gender, and Pubertal Development

1Department of Food Science, Aarhus University, Kirstinebjergvej 10, 5792 Aarslev, Denmark
2Department of Human Nutrition, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen, 1958 Frederiksberg, Denmark

Received 29 October 2013; Revised 28 February 2014; Accepted 2 March 2014; Published 27 March 2014

Academic Editor: Claudio Maffeis

Copyright © 2014 Hong Zheng et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The plasma and urine metabolome of 192 overweight 12–15-year-old adolescents (BMI of 25.4 ± 2.3 kg/m2) were examined in order to elucidate gender, pubertal development measured as Tanner stage, physical activity measured as number of steps taken daily, and intra-/interindividual differences affecting the metabolome detected by proton NMR spectroscopy. Higher urinary excretion of citrate, creatinine, hippurate, and phenylacetylglutamine and higher plasma level of phosphatidylcholine and unsaturated lipid were found for girls compared with boys. The results suggest that gender differences in the metabolome are being commenced already in childhood. The relationship between Tanner stage and the metabolome showed that pubertal development stage was positively related to urinary creatinine excretion and negatively related to urinary citrate content. No relations between physical activity and the metabolome could be identified. The present study for the first time provides comprehensive information about associations between the metabolome and gender, pubertal development, and physical activity in overweight adolescents, which is an important subject group to approach in the prevention of obesity and life-style related diseases. While this study is preliminary, these results may have the potential to translate into clinical applicability upon further investigations; if biomarkers for Tanner stage can be established, these might be used for identification of individuals susceptible to an early pubertal development.