Lifestyle management is a fundamental aspect of diabetes care to prevent cardiovascular disease (CVD); however, the underlying metabolic mechanism is not well established. We aimed to identify metabolites associated with different lifestyle factors, and estimate their mediating roles between lifestyle and CVD risk among people with diabetes.
Lifestyle and metabolomic data were available for 5072 participants with diabetes who were free of CVD at baseline in the UK Biobank. The healthy level of 5 lifestyle factors was defined as non-central obesity, non-current smoking, moderate alcohol intake, physically active, and healthy diet. A total of 44 biomarkers across 7 metabolic pathways including lipoprotein particles, fatty acids, amino acids, fluid balance, inflammation, ketone bodies, and glycolysis were quantified by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy.
All 44 assayed metabolites were significantly associated with at least one lifestyle factor. Approximately half of metabolites, which were mostly lipoprotein particles and fatty acids, showed a mediating effect between at least one lifestyle factor and CVD risk. NMR metabolites jointly mediated 43.4%, 30.0%, 16.8%, 43.4%, and 65.5% of the association of non-central obesity, non-current smoking, moderate alcohol intake, physically active, and healthy diet with lower CVD risk, respectively. In general, though metabolites that significantly associated with lifestyle were mostly different across the 5 lifestyle factors, the pattern of association was consistent between fatty acids and all 5 lifestyle factors. Further, fatty acids showed significant mediating effects in the association between all 5 lifestyle factors and CVD risk with mediation proportion ranging from 12.2% to 26.8%.
There were large-scale differences in circulating NMR metabolites between individuals with diabetes who adhered to a healthy lifestyle and those did not. Differences in metabolites, especial fatty acids, could partially explain the association between adherence to multiple healthy lifestyle and lower CVD risk among people with diabetes.

Copyright © 2022 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.