Appalachian State

David Nieman: Metabolomics in Nutrition & Exercise Science

April 06, 2016

By Robin Fastenau,
Metabolon Vice President, Corporate Communications & Investor Relations

Read the original article on the Metabolon Blog.

We asked David Nieman, D.Ph., FACSM, an expert in exercise science, to share his experience with metabolomics and how it has impacted his research.

David Nieman

David Nieman

David is a professor in the College of Health Sciences at Appalachian State University and director of the Human Performance Laboratory at the North Carolina Research Campus (NCRC) in Kannapolis, NC. He is a pioneer in the research area of exercise immunology. His current work is centered on investigating unique nutritional products as countermeasures to exercise- and obesity-induced immune dysfunction, inflammation, illness and oxidative stress.

Tell us about your research focus. What are you hoping to achieve?

Prolonged and intense exercise bouts induce physiologic stress, inflammation, oxidative stress, immune dysfunction and prolonged metabolic perturbations. The mission of the Human Performance Laboratory at the North Carolina Research Campus (NCRC) is to investigate unique nutritional products and other strategies as countermeasures to exercise-induced physiologic stress.

We also conduct randomized clinical trials with obese community adults. Many of the acute indicators of exercise stress are chronically elevated, albeit at lower levels, in obese individuals. Nutritional products that are efficacious with athletes during heavy training may be of benefit to those who have placed themselves at high disease risk through excessive weight gain during adulthood.

How long have you worked with Metabolon?

The earliest metabolomics-based studies were published by research groups in China and Europe during 2009 and 2010, and I became very interested in the potential for new research discoveries using this methodology. We conducted a few metabolomics-based exercise studies in 2010 and 2011 and then started working with Metabolon in 2012.

What value has Metabolon added to your research?

We quickly learned that high-quality data generated through metabolomics-based studies demand an extensive standards reference library, rigorous quality control procedures, highly sensitive and advanced mass spectrometry technology, sophisticated bioinformatics statistical support, and experienced biochemists to help interpret the findings. Metabolon provided all of this, and even worked with us in writing our research papers.

What are some of the most significant findings you’ve made using metabolomics?

Some of our most significant metabolomics-based discoveries include:

1. Using metabolomics, we were the first to show that heavy exertion induced accelerated release of small phenolics from the gut following two weeks of supplementation with blueberry and green tea extract.  (PLoS One. 2013 Aug 15;8(8):e72215. PMID: 23967286.)

2. Endurance athletes experienced a profound systemic shift in blood metabolites related to energy production, especially from the lipid super pathway, following heavy exertion. This was not fully restored to pre-exercise levels after 14 hours after recovery.  (J Proteome Res. 2013;12(10):4577-84. PMID: 23984841.)

3. 13- and 9-hydroxy-octadecadienoic acid (13-HODE + 9-HODE) increased 3.1-fold following 75-km cycling and was positively correlated with post-exercise F2-isoprostanes. These data for the first time supported the use of 13-HODE + 9-HODE as an oxidative stress biomarker in acute exercise investigations.  (Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2014;307(1):R68-74. PMID: 24760997.)

4. Pistachios consumed before and during heavy exertion were related to the release of the trisaccharide raffinose into the blood stream and impaired performance (-5%) in endurance cyclists. Metabolomics revealed that the post-exercise increase in plasma raffinose correlated significantly with the leukotoxin 9,10-DiHOME and other oxidative stress metabolites.  (PLoS One. 2014 Nov 19;9(11):e113725. PMID: 25409020.)

Please briefly summarize the research you’re presenting at Experimental Biology 2016 and what it means for athletes – both professionals and “weekend warriors.”

Many athletes and fitness enthusiasts believe they must consume sports drinks to support exercise training and competition. At the NCRC, we are interested in more healthful alternatives to sports drinks, especially fruit (PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e37479. PMID: 22616015).

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