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On April 13, 2023, we reported on a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association that aimed to identify metabolomic signatures characterizing consumption of unprocessed red meat and processed meat and whether such signatures are associated with ischemic heart disease (IHD) risk.
Using data from the UK Biobank, researchers identified metabolomic signatures that characterized metabolic response to processed meat and unprocessed red meat within a cohort of 92 246 persons (mean age, 56.1 years; 55.1% women). Weekly meat consumption was assessed using a touchscreen dietary questionnaire, and plasma metabolome was assessed using high-throughput nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. During a median follow-up of 8.74 years, researchers documented 3059 incident IHD events.
Using elastic net regularized regressions, investigators constructed metabolomic signatures consisting of 157 and 142 metabolites for unprocessed red meat (Spearman correlation coefficient [r]=0.223) and processed meat (r=0.329), respectively. In a fully adjusted model, these metabolomic signatures showed positive associations with incident IHD for red meat (hazard ratio [HR] per SD increment 1.11, 95% CI 1.06-1.16; P<.001) and processed meat (HR 1.16, 95% CI 1.11-1.21; P<.001).
The genome-wide association analysis identified 45 and 4 loci for red meat metabolomic signature and processed meat metabolomic signature, respectively. Mendelian randomized demonstrated that participants in the highest quintile of predicted metabolomic signature for red meat had a higher risk of IHD than those in the lowest quintile (adjusted HR [aHR] 1.38, 95% CI 1.00-1.90). Similarly, subjects in the highest quintile of predicted metabolomic signature for processed meat had a higher risk of IHD than those in the lowest quintile (aHR 1.64, 95% CI 1.06-2.53).
Note from authors
"Our findings demonstrate the feasibility of metabolomic profiling to illustrate the biological mechanisms associated with meat consumption."