Phenotypic flexibility as key factor in the human nutrition and health relationship
Postprandial responses to food are complex, involving both genetic and environmental factors. We studied postprandial responses to a Big Mac meal challenge in monozygotic co-twins highly discordant for body weight. This unique design allows assessment of the contribution of obesity, independent of genetic liability. Comprehensive metabolic profiling using 3 analytical platforms was applied to fasting and postprandial serum samples from 16 healthy monozygotic twin pairs discordant for weight (body mass index difference >3 kg/m(2)). Nine concordant monozygotic pairs were examined as control pairs. Fecal samples were analyzed to assess diversity of the major bacterial groups by using 5 different validated bacterial group specific denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis methods. No differences in fecal bacterial diversity were detected when comparing co-twins discordant for weight (ANOVA, P<0.05). We found that within-pair similarity is a dominant factor in the metabolic postprandial response, independent of acquired obesity. Branched chain amino acids were increased in heavier as compared with leaner co-twins in the fasting state, but their levels converged postprandially (paired t tests, FDR q<0.05). We also found that specific bacterial groups were associated with postprandial changes of specific metabolites. Our findings underline important roles of genetic and early life factors in the regulation of postprandial metabolite levels.