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1.  Circulating Lysophosphatidylcholines Are Markers of a Metabolically Benign Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver 
Diabetes Care  2013;36(8):2331-2338.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver (NAFL) is thought to contribute to insulin resistance and its metabolic complications. However, some individuals with NAFL remain insulin sensitive. Mechanisms involved in the susceptibility to develop insulin resistance in humans with NAFL are largely unknown. We investigated circulating markers and mechanisms of a metabolically benign and malignant NAFL by applying a metabolomic approach.
A total of 265 metabolites were analyzed before and after a 9-month lifestyle intervention in plasma from 20 insulin-sensitive and 20 insulin-resistant subjects with NAFL. The relevant plasma metabolites were then tested for relationships with insulin sensitivity in 17 subjects without NAFL and in plasma from 29 subjects with liver tissue samples.
The best separation of the insulin-sensitive from the insulin-resistant NAFL group was achieved by a metabolite pattern including the branched-chain amino acids leucine and isoleucine, ornithine, the acylcarnitines C3:0-, C16:0-, and C18:0-carnitine, and lysophosphatidylcholine (lyso-PC) C16:0 (area under the ROC curve, 0.77 [P = 0.00023] at baseline and 0.80 [P = 0.000019] at follow-up). Among the individual metabolites, predominantly higher levels of lyso-PC C16:0, both at baseline (P = 0.0039) and at follow-up (P = 0.001), were found in the insulin-sensitive compared with the insulin-resistant subjects. In the non-NAFL groups, no differences in lyso-PC C16:0 levels were found between the insulin-sensitive and insulin-resistant subjects, and these relationships were replicated in plasma from subjects with liver tissue samples.
From a plasma metabolomic pattern, particularly lyso-PCs are able to separate metabolically benign from malignant NAFL in humans and may highlight important pathways in the pathogenesis of fatty liver–induced insulin resistance.
PMCID: PMC3714475  PMID: 23514731
2.  Clinical and non-targeted metabolomic profiling of homozygous carriers of Transcription Factor 7-like 2 variant rs7903146 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:5296.
An important role of the type 2 diabetes risk variant rs7903146 in TCF7L2 in metabolic actions of various tissues, in particular of the liver, has recently been demonstrated by functional animal studies. Accordingly, the TT diabetes risk allele may lead to currently unknown alterations in human. Our study revealed no differences in the kinetics of glucose, insulin, C-peptide and non-esterified fatty acids during an OGTT in homozygous participants from a German diabetes risk cohort (n = 1832) carrying either the rs7903146 CC (n = 15) or the TT (n = 15) genotype. However, beta-cell function was impaired for TT carriers. Covering more than 4000 metabolite ions the plasma metabolome did not reveal any differences between genotypes. Our study argues against a relevant impact of TCF7L2 rs7903146 on the systemic level in humans, but confirms the role in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes in humans as a mechanism impairing insulin secretion.
PMCID: PMC4055885  PMID: 24925104
3.  Metabolic Signatures of Cultured Human Adipocytes from Metabolically Healthy versus Unhealthy Obese Individuals 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e93148.
Background and Aims
Among obese subjects, metabolically healthy and unhealthy obesity (MHO/MUHO) can be differentiated: the latter is characterized by whole-body insulin resistance, hepatic steatosis, and subclinical inflammation. Aim of this study was, to identify adipocyte-specific metabolic signatures and functional biomarkers for MHO versus MUHO.
10 insulin-resistant (IR) vs. 10 insulin-sensitive (IS) non-diabetic morbidly obese (BMI >40 kg/m2) Caucasians were matched for gender, age, BMI, and percentage of body fat. From subcutaneous fat biopsies, primary preadipocytes were isolated and differentiated to adipocytes in vitro. About 280 metabolites were investigated by a targeted metabolomic approach intracellularly, extracellularly, and in plasma.
Among others, aspartate was reduced intracellularly to one third (p = 0.0039) in IR adipocytes, pointing to a relative depletion of citric acid cycle metabolites or reduced aspartate uptake in MUHO. Other amino acids, already known to correlate with diabetes and/or obesity, were identified to differ between MUHO's and MHO's adipocytes, namely glutamine, histidine, and spermidine. Most species of phosphatidylcholines (PCs) were lower in MUHO's extracellular milieu, though simultaneously elevated intracellularly, e.g., PC aa C32∶3, pointing to increased PC synthesis and/or reduced PC release. Furthermore, altered arachidonic acid (AA) metabolism was found: 15(S)-HETE (15-hydroxy-eicosatetraenoic acid; 0 vs. 120pM; p = 0.0014), AA (1.5-fold; p = 0.0055) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, C22∶6; 2-fold; p = 0.0033) were higher in MUHO. This emphasizes a direct contribution of adipocytes to local adipose tissue inflammation. Elevated DHA, as an inhibitor of prostaglandin synthesis, might be a hint for counter-regulatory mechanisms in MUHO.
We identified adipocyte-inherent metabolic alterations discriminating between MHO and MUHO.
PMCID: PMC3973696  PMID: 24695116
4.  Automated Label-free Quantification of Metabolites from Liquid Chromatography–Mass Spectrometry Data* 
Liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (LC-MS) has become a standard technology in metabolomics. In particular, label-free quantification based on LC-MS is easily amenable to large-scale studies and thus well suited to clinical metabolomics. Large-scale studies, however, require automated processing of the large and complex LC-MS datasets.
We present a novel algorithm for the detection of mass traces and their aggregation into features (i.e. all signals caused by the same analyte species) that is computationally efficient and sensitive and that leads to reproducible quantification results. The algorithm is based on a sensitive detection of mass traces, which are then assembled into features based on mass-to-charge spacing, co-elution information, and a support vector machine–based classifier able to identify potential metabolite isotope patterns. The algorithm is not limited to metabolites but is applicable to a wide range of small molecules (e.g. lipidomics, peptidomics), as well as to other separation technologies.
We assessed the algorithm's robustness with regard to varying noise levels on synthetic data and then validated the approach on experimental data investigating human plasma samples. We obtained excellent results in a fully automated data-processing pipeline with respect to both accuracy and reproducibility. Relative to state-of-the art algorithms, ours demonstrated increased precision and recall of the method. The algorithm is available as part of the open-source software package OpenMS and runs on all major operating systems.
PMCID: PMC3879626  PMID: 24176773
5.  The Uncoordinated-5 Homolog B (UNC5B) Receptor Increases Myocardial Ischemia-Reperfusion Injury 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69477.
The UNC5 receptor family are chemorepulsive neuronal guidance receptors with additional functions outside the central nervous system. Previous studies have implicated that the UNC5B receptor influences the migration of leukocytes into sites of tissue inflammation. Given that this process is a critical step during the pathophysiology of myocardial ischemia followed by reperfusion (IR) we investigated the role of UNC5B during myocardial IR. In initial in-vitro experiments, the functional inhibition of UNC5B resulted in a significant reduction of chemotactic migration of neutrophils. In-vivo, using a model of acute myocardial ischemia in UNC5B+/− and wild type (WT) animals, we found a significant reduction of infarct sizes in UNC5B+/− animals. This was associated with significantly reduced levels of troponin-I and IL-6 in UNC5B+/− mice. The repression of UNC5B using siRNA and the functional inhibition of UNC5B significantly dampened the extent of myocardial IR injury. Following depletion of neutrophils, we were not able to observe any further reduction in infarct size through functional inhibition of UNC5B in WT and UNC5B+/− mice. In summary our studies demonstrate an important role for UNC5B during myocardial IR injury, and that UNC5B might be a potential therapeutic target to control reperfusion injury in the future.
PMCID: PMC3720625  PMID: 23936025
6.  Identification of the Amino Acids 300–600 of IRS-2 as 14-3-3 Binding Region with the Importance of IGF-1/Insulin-Regulated Phosphorylation of Ser-573 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e43296.
Phosphorylation of insulin receptor substrate (IRS)-2 on tyrosine residues is a key event in IGF-1/insulin signaling and leads to activation of the PI 3-kinase and the Ras/MAPK pathway. Furthermore, phosphorylated serine/threonine residues on IRS-2 can induce 14-3-3 binding. In this study we searched IRS-2 for novel phosphorylation sites and investigated the interaction between IRS-2 and 14-3-3. Mass spectrometry identified a total of 24 serine/threonine residues on IRS-2 with 12 sites unique for IRS-2 while the other residues are conserved in IRS-1 and IRS-2. IGF-1 stimulation led to increased binding of 14-3-3 to IRS-2 in transfected HEK293 cells and this binding was prevented by inhibition of the PI 3-kinase pathway and an Akt/PKB inhibitor. Insulin-stimulated interaction between endogenous IRS-2 and 14-3-3 was observed in rat hepatoma cells and in mice liver after an acute insulin stimulus and refeeding. Using different IRS-2 fragments enabled localization of the IGF-1-dependent 14-3-3 binding region spanning amino acids 300–600. The 24 identified residues on IRS-2 included several 14-3-3 binding candidates in the region 300–600. Single alanine mutants of these candidates led to the identification of serine 573 as 14-3-3 binding site. A phospho-site specific antibody was generated to further characterize serine 573. IGF-1-dependent phosphorylation of serine 573 was reduced by inhibition of PI 3-kinase and Akt/PKB. A negative role of this phosphorylation site was implicated by the alanine mutant of serine 573 which led to enhanced phosphorylation of Akt/PKB in an IGF-1 time course experiment. To conclude, our data suggest a physiologically relevant role for IGF-1/insulin-dependent 14-3-3 binding to IRS-2 involving serine 573.
PMCID: PMC3422239  PMID: 22912850
7.  Insulin Sensitivity Is Reflected by Characteristic Metabolic Fingerprints - A Fourier Transform Mass Spectrometric Non-Targeted Metabolomics Approach 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(10):e13317.
A decline in body insulin sensitivity in apparently healthy individuals indicates a high risk to develop type 2 diabetes. Investigating the metabolic fingerprints of individuals with different whole body insulin sensitivity according to the formula of Matsuda, et al. (ISIMatsuda) by a non-targeted metabolomics approach we aimed a) to figure out an unsuspicious and altered metabolic pattern, b) to estimate a threshold related to these changes based on the ISI, and c) to identify the metabolic pathways responsible for the discrimination of the two patterns.
Methodology and Principal Findings
By applying infusion ion cyclotron resonance Fourier transform mass spectrometry, we analyzed plasma of 46 non-diabetic subjects exhibiting high to low insulin sensitivities. The orthogonal partial least square model revealed a cluster of 28 individuals with alterations in their metabolic fingerprints associated with a decline in insulin sensitivity. This group could be separated from 18 subjects with an unsuspicious metabolite pattern. The orthogonal signal correction score scatter plot suggests a threshold of an ISIMatsuda of 15 for the discrimination of these two groups. Of note, a potential subgroup represented by eight individuals (ISIMatsuda value between 8.5 and 15) was identified in different models. This subgroup may indicate a metabolic transition state, since it is already located within the cluster of individuals with declined insulin sensitivity but the metabolic fingerprints still show some similarities with unaffected individuals (ISI >15). Moreover, the highest number of metabolite intensity differences between unsuspicious and altered metabolic fingerprints was detected in lipid metabolic pathways (arachidonic acid metabolism, metabolism of essential fatty acids and biosynthesis of unsaturated fatty acids), steroid hormone biosyntheses and bile acid metabolism, based on data evaluation using the metabolic annotation interface MassTRIX.
Our results suggest that altered metabolite patterns that reflect changes in insulin sensitivity respectively the ISIMatsuda are dominated by lipid-related pathways. Furthermore, a metabolic transition state reflected by heterogeneous metabolite fingerprints may precede severe alterations of metabolism. Our findings offer future prospects for novel insights in the pathogenesis of the pre-diabetic phase.
PMCID: PMC2955523  PMID: 20976215
8.  Lipidomics Analysis Reveals Efficient Storage of Hepatic Triacylglycerides Enriched in Unsaturated Fatty Acids after One Bout of Exercise in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(10):e13318.
Endurance exercise induces lipolysis, increases circulating concentrations of free fatty acids (FFA) and the uptake and oxidation of fatty acids in the working muscle. Less is known about the regulation of lipid metabolism in the liver during and post-exercise.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We performed an ultra fast liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (UFLC-MS) based lipidomics analysis of liver tissue samples obtained from C57Bl/6J mice immediately after a 60 min treadmill run of moderate intensity, and after 3 h of recovery. The PLS-DA scores plot for 115 quantified lipid molecular species revealed a clear separation of the hepatic lipid profile of sedentary from recovering mice, but not from mice immediately after running. 21 lipid species were considered to be most responsible for the difference in the hepatic lipid profiles, including 17 triacylglycerides (TG), one lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC) and three phosphatidylcholines (PC). TG species were found to be more abundant in the recovery phase, while PC species were decreased. The degree of accumulation of individual TG species correlated well with the amount of theoretical energy stored whereas no increase was found for TG species containing only saturated or one monounsaturated fatty acid. Total liver TG content as assayed by an enzymatic method was increased to 163% in the recovery phase, while it was significantly decreased in skeletal muscle by the exercise bout and remained less in the recovery phase. Results from fasted and refed mice indicate that fasting-induced lipolysis was associated with a pronounced accumulation of hepatic TG, which is reversed by refeeding for 5 h. Thus food intake per se did not elevate hepatic TG.
These data indicate that high availability of FFA induced by endurance exercise or fasting resulted in a transient hepatic TG accumulation, while muscle TG content was decreased during exercise presumably due to increased muscle fatty acid oxidation.
PMCID: PMC2954156  PMID: 20967198
9.  Medium Chain Acylcarnitines Dominate the Metabolite Pattern in Humans under Moderate Intensity Exercise and Support Lipid Oxidation 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(7):e11519.
Exercise is an extreme physiological challenge for skeletal muscle energy metabolism and has notable health benefits. We aimed to identify and characterize metabolites, which are components of the regulatory network mediating the beneficial metabolic adaptation to exercise.
Methodology and Principal Findings
First, we investigated plasma from healthy human subjects who completed two independent running studies under moderate, predominantly aerobic conditions. Samples obtained prior to and immediately after running and then 3 and 24 h into the recovery phase were analyzed by a non-targeted (NT-) metabolomics approach applying liquid chromatography-qTOF-mass spectrometry. Under these conditions medium and long chain acylcarnitines were found to be the most discriminant plasma biomarkers of moderately intense exercise. Immediately after a 60 min (at 93% VIAT) or a 120 min run (at 70% VIAT) a pronounced, transient increase dominated by octanoyl-, decanoyl-, and dodecanoyl-carnitine was observed. The release of acylcarnitines as intermediates of partial β-oxidation was verified in skeletal muscle cell culture experiments by probing 13C-palmitate metabolism. Further investigations in primary human myotubes and mouse muscle tissue revealed that octanoyl-, decanoyl-, and dodecanoyl-carnitine were able to support the oxidation of palmitate, proving more effective than L-carnitine.
Medium chain acylcarnitines were identified and characterized by a functional metabolomics approach as the dominating biomarkers during a moderately intense exercise bout possessing the power to support fat oxidation. This physiological production and efflux of acylcarnitines might exert beneficial biological functions in muscle tissue.
PMCID: PMC2902514  PMID: 20634953
10.  Metabonomic fingerprints of fasting plasma and spot urine reveal human pre-diabetic metabolic traits 
Metabolomics  2010;6(3):362-374.
Impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) which precedes overt type 2 diabetes (T2DM) for decades is associated with multiple metabolic alterations in insulin sensitive tissues. In an UPLC-qTOF-mass spectrometry-driven non-targeted metabonomics approach we investigated plasma as well as spot urine of 51 non-diabetic, overnight fasted individuals aiming to separate subjects with IGT from controls thereby identify pathways affected by the pre-diabetic metabolic state. We could clearly demonstrate that normal glucose tolerant (NGT) and IGT subjects clustered in two distinct groups independent of the investigated metabonome. These findings reflect considerable differences in individual metabolite fingerprints, both in plasma and urine. Pre-diabetes associated alterations in fatty acid-, tryptophan-, uric acid-, bile acid-, and lysophosphatidylcholine-metabolism, as well as the TCA cycle were identified. Of note, individuals with IGT also showed decreased levels of gut flora-associated metabolites namely hippuric acid, methylxanthine, methyluric acid, and 3-hydroxyhippuric acid. The findings of our non-targeted UPLC-qTOF-MS metabonomics analysis in plasma and spot urine of individuals with IGT vs NGT offers novel insights into the metabolic alterations occurring in the long, asymptomatic period preceding the manifestation of T2DM thereby giving prospects for new intervention targets.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11306-010-0203-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC2899018  PMID: 20676218
Metabolomics; UPLC-qTOF-MS; Diabetes; Pre-diabetes; Impaired glucose tolerance
11.  Antimicrobial Properties of a Novel Silver-Silica Nanocomposite Material▿  
Nanotechnology enables development and production of novel silver-based composite materials. We used in vitro tests to demonstrate the antimicrobial activity of a silver-silica nanocomposite compared to the activities of conventional materials, such as silver nitrate and silver zeolite. A silver-silica-containing polystyrene material was manufactured and shown to possess strong antimicrobial properties.
PMCID: PMC2681698  PMID: 19270121
12.  Use of High-Affinity Cell Wall-Binding Domains of Bacteriophage Endolysins for Immobilization and Separation of Bacterial Cells▿  
Immobilization and magnetic separation for specific enrichment of microbial cells, such as the pathogen Listeria monocytogenes, depends on the availability of suitable affinity molecules. We report here a novel concept for the immobilization and separation of bacterial cells by replacing antibodies with cell wall-binding domains (CBDs) of bacteriophage-encoded peptidoglycan hydrolases (endolysins). These polypeptide modules very specifically recognize and bind to ligands on the gram-positive cell wall with high affinity. With paramagnetic beads coated with recombinant Listeria phage endolysin-derived CBD molecules, more than 90% of the viable L. monocytogenes cells could be immobilized and recovered from diluted suspensions within 20 to 40 min. Recovery rates were similar for different species and serovars of Listeria and were not affected by the presence of other microorganisms. The CBD-based magnetic separation (CBD-MS) procedure was evaluated for capture and detection of L. monocytogenes from artificially and naturally contaminated food samples. The CBD separation method was shown to be superior to the established standard procedures; it required less time (48 h versus 96 h) and was the more sensitive method. Furthermore, the generalizability of the CBD-MS approach was demonstrated by using specific phage-encoded CBDs specifically recognizing Bacillus cereus and Clostridium perfringens cells, respectively. Altogether, CBD polypeptides represent novel and innovative tools for the binding and capture of bacterial cells, with many possible applications in microbiology and diagnostics.
PMCID: PMC1828835  PMID: 17277212

Results 1-12 (12)