European Journal of Nutrition

, Volume 56, Issue 2, pp 671–681 | Cite as

Metabolic changes in serum metabolome in response to a meal

  • Aahana Shrestha
  • Elisabeth Müllner
  • Kaisa Poutanen
  • Hannu Mykkänen
  • Ali A. Moazzami
Original Contribution



The change in serum metabolic response from fasting state to postprandial state provides novel insights into the impact of a single meal on human metabolism. Therefore, this study explored changes in serum metabolite profile after a single meal.


Nineteen healthy postmenopausal women with normal glucose tolerance participated in the study. They received a meal consisting of refined wheat bread (50 g carbohydrates, 9 g protein, 4.2 g fat and 2.7 g dietary fibre), 40 g cucumber and 300 mL noncaloric orange drink. Blood samples were collected at fasting and five postprandial time points. Metabolic profile was measured by nuclear magnetic resonance and targeted liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry. Changes over time were assessed with multivariate models and ANOVA, with baseline as control.


The metabolomic analyses demonstrated alterations in phospholipids, amino acids and their breakdown products, glycolytic products, acylcarnitines and ketone bodies after a single meal. More specifically, phosphatidylcholines, lysophosphatidylcholines and citrate displayed an overall declining pattern, while leucine, isoleucine, methionine and succinate increased initially but declined thereafter. A sharp decline in acylcarnitines and ketone bodies and increase in glycolytic products postprandially suggest a switch in the body’s energy source from β-oxidation to glycolysis. Moreover, individuals with relatively high postprandial insulin responses generated a higher postprandial leucine responses compared to participants with lower insulin responses.


The study demonstrated complex changes from catabolic to anabolic metabolism after a meal and indicated that the extent of postprandial responses is different between individuals with high and low insulin response.


Metabolomics Postprandial changes Insulin Amino acid Acylcarnitine Glycolytic products Phosphatidylcholine 



The authors thank Dr. Claudia von Brömssen for her kind support regarding the statistical analyses and Erja Kinnunen for technical and laboratory assistance during the clinical phase of the study. This work was conducted as part of the Nordic Centre of Excellence ‘Nordic Health—Whole Grain Food’ (HELGA) project and was funded by the Swedish Research Council FORMAS, Dr. Håkansson’s foundation and SLUmat—a research fund allocated to food research at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. In addition, the human trial was supported by Fazer Bakeries Ltd, Vaasan & Vaasan Oy, and the Technology Development Centre of Finland. Kaisa Poutanen gratefully acknowledges funding from the Academy of Finland.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Ethical standards

The present study was approved by the Ethical Committee of Kupio University and University Hospital Finland and was performed in accordance with the ethical standards laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments. All participants gave their informed consent prior to inclusion in the study.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aahana Shrestha
    • 1
  • Elisabeth Müllner
    • 1
  • Kaisa Poutanen
    • 2
    • 3
  • Hannu Mykkänen
    • 2
  • Ali A. Moazzami
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Chemistry and BiotechnologySwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUppsalaSweden
  2. 2.Department of Clinical Nutrition, Institute of Public Health and Clinical NutritionUniversity of Eastern FinlandKuopioFinland
  3. 3.VTT Technical Research Centre of FinlandEspooFinland

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