PURPOSE: Sulfur amino acids (SAAs) have been associated with obesity and obesity-related metabolic diseases. We investigated whether plasma SAAs (methionine, total cysteine (tCys), total homocysteine, cystathionine and total glutathione) are related to specific fat depots.

METHODS: We examined cross-sectional subsets from the CODAM cohort (n = 470, 61.3% men, median [IQR]: 67 [61, 71] years) and The Maastricht Study (DMS; n = 371, 53.4% men, 63 [55, 68] years), enriched with (pre)diabetic individuals. SAAs were measured in fasting EDTA plasma with LC-MS/MS. Outcomes comprised BMI, skinfolds, waist circumference (WC), dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA, DMS), body composition, abdominal subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissues (CODAM: ultrasound, DMS: MRI) and liver fat (estimated, in CODAM, or MRI-derived, in DMS, liver fat percentage and fatty liver disease). Associations were examined with linear or logistic regressions adjusted for relevant confounders with z-standardized primary exposures and outcomes.

RESULTS: Methionine was associated with all measures of liver fat, e.g., fatty liver disease [CODAM: OR = 1.49 (95% CI 1.19, 1.88); DMS: OR = 1.51 (1.09, 2.14)], but not with other fat depots. tCys was associated with overall obesity, e.g., BMI [CODAM: β = 0.19 (0.09, 0.28); DMS: β = 0.24 (0.14, 0.34)]; peripheral adiposity, e.g., biceps and triceps skinfolds [CODAM: β = 0.15 (0.08, 0.23); DMS: β = 0.20 (0.12, 0.29)]; and central adiposity, e.g., WC [CODAM: β = 0.16 (0.08, 0.25); DMS: β = 0.17 (0.08, 0.27)]. Associations of tCys with VAT and liver fat were inconsistent. Other SAAs were not associated with body fat.

CONCLUSION: Plasma concentrations of methionine and tCys showed distinct associations with different fat depots, with similar strengths in the two cohorts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)891-904
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Nutrition
Issue number2
Early online date2 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


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