Lifestyle Factors Affect Metabolite Profile

Smoking-related changes in human serum metabolites are reversible after smoking cessation, consistent with the known cardiovascular risk reduction and other health consequences.

Cigarette smoking causes a multitude of changes in metabolite concentration, which increase the risk of multiple diseases. When an individual quits smoking, smoking-related changes in human serum metabolites are reversible. These results are consistent with previous findings that the risk for cardiovascular disease – such as a myocardial infarction – reduces after smoking cessation. Scientists of the Research Unit Molecular Epidemiology, of the Institute of Epidemiology II and of the Institute of Experimental Genetics analyzed blood samples from more than 1 200 participants of the population-based Cooperative Health Research in the Region of Augsburg (KORA) cohort. Blood samples and smoking status of these individuals were collected at two time points: a baseline survey conducted between 1999 and 2001 and a follow-up after seven years. Overall, through the analysis of the metabolite profiles, the team led by Rui Wang-Sattler, Tao Xu, Jerzy Adamski and Annette Peters identified 21 smoking-related metabolites, which are enriched in amino acid and lipid pathways. 19 out of the 21 metab­olites were found to be reversible in former smokers, including arginine, glutamate and lyosphosphatidylcholines, which have been previously preported to be associated with the risk reduction of cardiovascular diseases.

These results indicate the remarkable benefits of smoking cessation and provide a link to cardiovascular disease benefits. The identified smoking-related metabolites pinpointed disturbed pathways, which are useful to elucidate further health consequences of nicotine consumption. The study therefore represents a meaningful metabolomics approach with which the molecular signatures of lifestyle-related environmental exposures and diseases can be studied.

The Cooperative Health Research in the Region of ­Augsburg (KORA) has been studying the health of thousands of people from the Augsburg area for almost 30 years. The aim is to understand the effects of environmental factors, behavior and genes. The core topics of the KORA studies are questions about the development and course of chronic diseases, in particular heart attack and diabetes mellitus. To this end, research is conducted on risk factors from health behavior, the environment and genetics. 

Concentrations of the metabolite arginine and ornithine in the blood of smokers, former smokers and never smokers: The data of the two studies were collected with an interval of seven years. Source: HMGU