Journal Articles

Publication Date



Kidney Medicine


RATIONALE & OBJECTIVE: While urine excretion of nitrogen estimates the total protein intake, biomarkers of specific dietary protein sources have been sparsely studied. Using untargeted metabolomics, this study aimed to identify serum metabolomic markers of 6 protein-rich foods and to examine whether dietary protein-related metabolites are associated with incident chronic kidney disease (CKD).

STUDY DESIGN: Prospective cohort study.

SETTING & PARTICIPANTS: A total of 3,726 participants from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study without CKD at baseline.

EXPOSURES: Dietary intake of 6 protein-rich foods (fish, nuts, legumes, red and processed meat, eggs, and poultry), serum metabolites.

OUTCOMES: Incident CKD (estimated glomerular filtration rate < 60 mL/min/1.73 m

ANALYTICAL APPROACH: Multivariable linear regression models estimated cross-sectional associations between protein-rich foods and serum metabolites. C statistics assessed the ability of the metabolites to improve the discrimination of highest versus lower 3 quartiles of intake of protein-rich foods beyond covariates (demographics, clinical factors, health behaviors, and the intake of nonprotein food groups). Cox regression models identified prospective associations between protein-related metabolites and incident CKD.

RESULTS: Thirty significant associations were identified between protein-rich foods and serum metabolites (fish, n = 8; nuts, n = 5; legumes, n = 0; red and processed meat, n = 5; eggs, n = 3; and poultry, n = 9). Metabolites collectively and significantly improved the discrimination of high intake of protein-rich foods compared with covariates alone (difference in C statistics = 0.033, 0.051, 0.003, 0.024, and 0.025 for fish, nuts, red and processed meat, eggs, and poultry-related metabolites, respectively;

LIMITATIONS: Residual confounding and sample-storage duration.

CONCLUSIONS: We identified candidate biomarkers of fish, nuts, red and processed meat, eggs, and poultry. A fish-related metabolite, 1-docosahexaenoylglycerophosphocholine (22:6n3), was associated with a lower risk of CKD.


Chronic kidney disease, dietary protein, metabolomics, protein sources



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