Weight loss moderately affects the mixed meal challenge response of the plasma metabolome and transcriptome of peripheral blood mononuclear cells in abdominally obese subjects

Parastoo Fazelzadeh, Roland W. J. Hangelbroek, Peter J. Joris, Casper G. Schalkwijk, Diederik Esser, Lydia Afman, Thomas Hankemeier, Doris M. Jacobs, Velitchka V. Mihaleva, Sander Kersten, John Van Duynhoven*, Mark V. Boekschoten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Introduction The response to dietary challenges has been proposed as a more accurate measure of metabolic health than static measurements performed in the fasted state. This has prompted many groups to explore the potential of dietary challenge tests for assessment of diet and lifestyle induced shifts in metabolic phenotype.

Objectives We examined whether the response to a mixed-meal challenge could provide a readout for a weight loss (WL)-induced phenotype shift in abdominally obese male subjects. The underlying assumption of a mixed meal challenge is that it triggers all aspects of phenotypic flexibility and provokes a more prolonged insulin response, possibly allowing for better differentiation between individuals.

Methods Abdominally obese men (n = 29, BMI = 30.3 +/- 2.4 kg/m(2)) received a mixed-meal challenge prior to and after an 8-week WL or no-WL control intervention. Lean subjects (n = 15, BMI = 23.0 +/- 2.0 kg/m(2)) only received the mixed meal challenge at baseline to have a benchmark for WL-induced phenotype shifts.

Results Levels of several plasma metabolites were significantly different between lean and abdominally obese at baseline as well as during postprandial metabolic responses. Genes related to oxidative phosphorylation in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were expressed at higher levels in abdominally obese subjects as compared to lean subjects at fasting, which was partially reverted after WL. The impact of WL on the postprandial response was modest, both at the metabolic and gene expression level in PBMCs.

Conclusion We conclude that mixed-meal challenges are not necessarily superior to measurements in the fasted state to assess metabolic health. Furthermore, the mechanisms accounting for the observed differences between lean and abdominally obese in the fasted state are different from those underlying the dissimilarity observed during the postprandial response.

Original languageEnglish
Article number46
Number of pages13
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


  • Metabolic health
  • Mixed-meal challenge
  • Phenotype shift

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