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Peter Spégel

Principal investigator

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Metabolite profiling paradoxically reveals favorable levels of lipids, markers of oxidative stress and unsaturated fatty acids in a diabetes susceptible group of Middle Eastern immigrants


  • Mahmoud Al-Majdoub
  • Peter Spégel
  • Louise Bennet

Summary, in English

Aims: The population of immigrants from the Middle East in Sweden show a higher prevalence of type 2 diabetes (T2D) compared to native Swedes. The exact reason for this is unknown. Here, we have performed metabolite profiling to investigate these differences. Methods: Metabolite profiling was conducted in Iraqi immigrants (n = 93) and native Swedes (n = 77) using two complementary mass spectrometry-based platforms. Differences in metabolite levels were compared after adjustment for confounding anthropometric, diet and clinical variables. Results: The Iraqi immigrant population were more obese (44.1 vs 24.7%, p < 0.05), but had a lower prevalence of hypertension (32.3 vs 54.8%, p < 0.01) than the native Swedish population. We detected 140 metabolites, 26 of which showed different levels between populations (q < 0.05,) after adjustment for age, sex, BMI, T2D and use of metformin. Twenty-two metabolites remained significant after further adjustment for HOMA-IR, HOMA-beta or insulin sensitivity index. Levels of polyunsaturated acylcarnitines (14:2 and 18:2) and fatty acid (18:2) were higher, whereas those of saturated and monounsaturated acylcarnitines (14:0, 18:1, and 8:1), fatty acids (12:0, 14:0, 16:0, and 18:1), uremic solutes (urate and quinate) and ketone bodies (beta-hydroxybutyrate) were lower in Iraqi immigrants. Further, levels of phospholipids were generally lower in the Iraqi immigrant population. Conclusions: Our result suggests an overall beneficial lipid profile in Iraqi immigrants, despite a higher risk to develop T2D. Higher levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids may suggest differences in dietary pattern, which in turn may reduce the risk of hypertension.


  • Diabetes - Molecular Metabolism
  • Centre for Analysis and Synthesis
  • EXODIAB: Excellence of Diabetes Research in Sweden
  • Family Medicine and Community Medicine
  • EpiHealth: Epidemiology for Health

Publishing year







Acta Diabetologica





Document type

Journal article




  • Endocrinology and Diabetes


  • Acylcarnitines
  • Fatty acids
  • Hypertension
  • Ketone bodies
  • Metabolomics
  • Middle East
  • Migration
  • Obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Uremic solutes




  • The MEDIM project

Research group

  • Diabetes - Molecular Metabolism
  • Family Medicine and Community Medicine


  • ISSN: 0940-5429