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Is it possible to predict weight problems?
Many people are probably interested in their risk of becoming overweight and obese. A new test has now been developed that is able to identify people who are at increased risk of becoming overweight and suffering from diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and dyslipidemia.
In the current study by the University of Campinas (UNICAMP) in Brazil, a computer program was developed that analyzes molecules in the blood plasma in order to look for biomarkers that indicate excess weight or various diseases. The results of the study were published in the English language journal "Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology".
Accuracy is 90 percent
The new test is 90 percent accurate when it comes to determining whether a subject will gain weight without any intervention. The test also shows whether there is a risk of diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and dyslipidemia. In the future, the test could allow people at higher risk to recommend lifestyle changes before potential health problems arise.
Obesity and obesity in Germany
Such a test could help reduce the number of people who are overweight and obese. In Germany alone, two thirds of men (67 percent) and half of women (53 percent) suffer from obesity, according to the Robert Koch Institute. A quarter of adults (23 percent of men and 24 percent of women) are very overweight.
Test involves mass spectrometer analysis
The test consists of a mass spectrometer analysis in order to record all metabolites present in the patient's blood and to create a profile of the various metabolic processes acting in the organism. The data obtained is then analyzed by the newly developed software.
Blood is tested for five metabolites
"The program examines the blood sample for five metabolites that act as biomarkers with the potential to predict weight gain," says study author Professor Rodrigo Ramos Catharino of the University of Campinas in a press release. If one of these biomarkers is present in the sample, for example, the person affected has a tendency to develop diabetes if they develop obesity, the expert adds.
Software can be downloaded free of charge from the Internet
Since the software files are open source, they can be downloaded free of charge from the Internet. Any healthcare provider with access to a mass spectrometer can apply the new methodology. It is an inexpensive technique, all that is required is a mass spectrometer.
Program learned with the help of blood tests
The methodology developed at UNICAMP combines metabolomics (the analysis of all metabolites in a biological sample) with machine learning. The researchers used data obtained from analyzing blood samples from 180 people to teach the program to recognize a specific pattern associated with weight gain.
Half of the participants had weight problems
Half of the volunteers included in the study were classified as healthy in the Body Mass Index (BMI), while the rest were overweight or obese to varying degrees. Anthropometric measurements (weight, height and body mass) were carried out for all participants. A questionnaire on the family history of chronic diseases, age and gender was also completed.
Five metabolites were able to predict weight gain
The researchers found that 18 metabolites can serve as biomarkers for metabolic processes related to fat accumulation, five of which have the potential to predict weight gain.
Effects of prostaglandin B2 and carboxy-leukotriene B4
“Prostaglandin B2 and carboxy-leukotriene B4 are metabolites of arachidonic acid [a fatty acid from the omega-6 family] that are known to be involved in inflammatory processes, cell recruitment at the site of inflammation, and the production of reactive oxygen species [an excess of this affects cell function], ”says study author Flávia Luísa Dias-Audibert from Campinas State University.
Chronic inflammation as a harmful process in obesity
Two other important molecules identified were argininosuccinate and dihydrobiopterin, both of which are involved in the nitric oxide cycle and can be viewed as markers of free radical production. The combination of these biomarkers indicates that feedback from the inflammatory cascade occurs in overweight people. This finding is consistent with the results of several studies that describe low-quality chronic inflammation as one of the active harmful processes in obesity, the researchers explain.
Is CMPF the link between obesity and diabetes?
The fifth biomarker that emerged as a potential predictor of weight gain was carboxy-methyl-propyl-furanpropanoic acid (CMPF), a metabolite that has been linked to insulin-producing cell dysfunction and the development of diabetes. Since there were also diabetics in the study group, this biomarker could be the link between weight gain and diabetes, Dias-Audibert speculates.
Test can predict effectiveness of treatments
The computer program could be used by healthcare professionals to assess the effectiveness of a treatment prescribed to reduce a patient's body fat percentage. So before a person loses weight, it is possible to know whether the intervention will be effective or not. (as)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Flávia Luísa Dias-Audibert, Luiz Claudio Navarro, Diogo Noin de Oliveira, Jeany Delafiori, Carlos Fernando et al .: Combining Machine Learning and Metabolomics to Identify Weight Gain Biomarkers, in Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology (published Jan 24, 2020), Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology
- Obesity and obesity, Robert Koch Institute, RKI
- Novel blood test points to risk of weight gain and diabetes, São Paulo Research Foundation (02/26/2020), FAPESP