New metabolic biomarkers predict future cardiovascular diseases

New metabolic biomarkers predict future cardiovascular diseases

Source: fotolia

Blood samples of more than 13,000 apparently healthy people with a mean of 48 to 69 years of age were screened and the health status of these volunteers was followed for over a decade. The team uncovered four new biomarkers that were associated with the risk for cardiovascular diseases, independently of known risk factors (such as high cholesterol or elevated blood pressure).

Phenylalanine and unsaturated fatty acids linked with higher disease risk

Higher concentrations of the amino acid phenylalanine and monounsaturated fatty acids were strong predictors of future heart disease. High levels of both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids were linked with lower risk for cardiovascular disease.The scientists hope these new biomarkers can help to better assess the complex molecular processes behind the development of cardiovascular diseases. The improved prediction of cardiovascular risk also suggests better prevention and health care for those affected.

Blood samples screened for over 700 biomarkers

The detection method of these biomarkers is based on NMR*-spectroscopy technique, combined with non-targeted metabolomics technique of Liquid Chromatography-tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) at Genome Analysis Center (CAG) at Helmholtz Zentrum München. The LC/MS-MS non-targeted metabolomics platform at GAC HMGU is capable to detect and annotate over 700 molecules and is now being used for metabolic profiling of many metabolomics studies across Europe.

The research was conducted as an international collaboration which includes researchers from Helmholtz Zentrum München, Prof. Dr. Jerzy Adamski and Dr. Anna Artati, GAC. The study was led by the University of Oulu, Finland, further research partners were the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare, the University of Eastern Finland, the University of Turku, the Framingham Heart Study in Boston, US, as well as the University College London, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and the University of Bristol, UK.

To the press release of the University of Oulu, Finnland

Image: Prof. Dr. Jerzy Adamski (left), Dr. Anna Artati (right), Source: Helmholtz Zentrum München

Further Information

* NMR = Nuclear Magnetic Resonance

Original publication:
Würtz, P. et al. (2015). Metabolite Profiling and Cardiovascular Event Risk: A Prospective Study of Three Population-Based Cohorts, Circulation, doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.114.013116

Link to publication

As German Research Center for Environmental Health, Helmholtz Zentrum München pursues the goal of developing personalized medical approaches for the prevention and therapy of major common diseases such as diabetes mellitus and lung diseases. To achieve this, it investigates the interaction of genetics, environmental factors and lifestyle. The Helmholtz Zentrum München has about 2,200 staff members and is headquartered in Neuherberg in the north of Munich. Helmholtz Zentrum München is a member of the Helmholtz Association, a community of 18 scientific-technical and medical-biological research centers with a total of about 34,000 staff members.

The research objective of the Institute of Experimental Genetics (IEG) is to elucidate the causes and pathogenesis of human diseases. Due to its prominent role in interdisciplinary and international consortia, the IEG is a global leader in the systemic study of mouse models for human diseases and the elucidation of involved genes. The main focus is on metabolic diseases such as diabetes. The IEG is part of the Helmholtz Diabetes Center (HDC).
The Research Unit Genome Analysis Center (GAC), headed by Prof. Dr. Jerzy Adamski is part of the IEG. GAC is a core research facility with major focus to investigate complex processes in the development and progression of common complex diseases in man, and the challenge of environment to human health. GAC Metabolomics ( has state of the art know-how and expertise with human cohort, animal samples and cell lines analyses and data interpretation.


Scientific contact at Helmholtz Zentrum München

Prof. Dr. Jerzy Adamski, Helmholtz Zentrum München – German Research Center for Environmental Health (GmbH), Institute of Experimental Genetics / Genome Analysis Center, Ingolstädter Landstr. 1, 85764 Neuherberg, Germany – Phone: 089-3187-3155 – Email