Differences in metabolomic profiles between Black and White women in the U.S.: Analyses from two prospective cohorts.

European journal of epidemiology

There is growing interest in incorporating metabolomics into public health practice. However, Black women are under-represented in many metabolomics studies. If metabolomic profiles differ between Black and White women, this under-representation may exacerbate existing Black-White health disparities. We therefore aimed to estimate metabolomic differences between Black and White women in the U.S. We leveraged data from two prospective cohorts: the Nurses' Health Study (NHS; n = 2077) and Women's Health Initiative (WHI; n = 2128). The WHI served as the replication cohort. Plasma metabolites (n = 334) were measured via liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Observed metabolomic differences were estimated using linear regression and metabolite set enrichment analyses. Residual metabolomic differences in a hypothetical population in which the distributions of 14 risk factors were equalized across racial groups were estimated using inverse odds ratio weighting. In the NHS, Black-White differences were observed for most metabolites (75 metabolites with observed differences |0.50| standard deviations). Black women had lower average levels than White women for most metabolites (e.g., for N6, N6-dimethlylysine, mean Black-White difference = - 0.98 standard deviations; 95% CI: - 1.11, - 0.84). In metabolite set enrichment analyses, Black women had lower levels of triglycerides, phosphatidylcholines, lysophosphatidylethanolamines, phosphatidylethanolamines, and organoheterocyclic compounds, but higher levels of phosphatidylethanolamine plasmalogens, phosphatidylcholine plasmalogens, cholesteryl esters, and carnitines. In a hypothetical population in which distributions of 14 risk factors were equalized, Black-White metabolomic differences persisted. Most results replicated in the WHI (88% of 272 metabolites available for replication). Substantial differences in metabolomic profiles exist between Black and White women. Future studies should prioritize racial representation.

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European journal of epidemiology
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