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Early life infection and proinflammatory, atherogenic metabolomic and lipidomic profiles in infancy: a population-based cohort study

journal contribution
posted on 2022-05-10, 00:00 authored by T Mansell, R Saffery, S Burugupalli, A L Ponsonby, M L K Tang, Martin O'HelyMartin O'Hely, S Bekkering, A A T Smith, R Rowland, S Ranganathan, Peter SlyPeter Sly, Peter VuillerminPeter Vuillermin, F Collier, P Meikle, D Burgner
Background: The risk of adult onset cardiovascular and metabolic (cardiometabolic) disease accrues from early life. Infection is ubiquitous in infancy and induces inflammation, a key cardiometabolic risk factor, but the relationship between infection, inflammation, and metabolic profiles in early childhood remains unexplored. We investigated relationships between infection and plasma metabolomic and lipidomic profiles at age 6 and 12 months, and mediation of these associations by inflammation. Methods: Matched infection, metabolomics, and lipidomics data were generated from 555 infants in a pre-birth longitudinal cohort. Infection data from birth to 12 months were parent-reported (total infections at age 1, 3, 6, 9, and 12 months), inflammation markers (high-sensitivity C-reactive protein [hsCRP]; glycoprotein acetyls [GlycA]) were quantified at 12 months. Metabolic profiles were 12-month plasma nuclear magnetic resonance metabolomics (228 metabolites) and liquid chroma-tography/mass spectrometry lipidomics (776 lipids). Associations were evaluated with multivariable linear regression models. In secondary analyses, corresponding inflammation and metabolic data from birth (serum) and 6-month (plasma) time points were used. Results: At 12 months, more frequent infant infections were associated with adverse metabolomic (elevated inflammation markers, triglycerides and phenylalanine, and lower high-density lipoprotein [HDL] cholesterol and apolipoprotein A1) and lipidomic profiles (elevated phosphatidylethanol-amines and lower trihexosylceramides, dehydrocholesteryl esters, and plasmalogens). Similar, more marked, profiles were observed with higher GlycA, but not hsCRP. GlycA mediated a substantial proportion of the relationship between infection and metabolome/lipidome, with hsCRP gener-ally mediating a lower proportion. Analogous relationships were observed between infection and 6-month inflammation, HDL cholesterol, and apolipoprotein A1. Conclusions: Infants with a greater infection burden in the first year of life had proinflammatory and proatherogenic plasma metabolomic/lipidomic profiles at 12 months of age that in adults are indicative of heightened risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. These findings suggest potentially modifiable pathways linking early life infection and inflammation with subsequent cardiometabolic risk.






Article number



1 - 25


eLife Sciences


Cambridge, Eng.





Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal