Metabolomics examines the small molecules involved in cellular metabolism. Approximately 50% of total phenotypic differences in metabolite levels is due to genetic variance, but heritability estimates differ across metabolite classes. We perform a review of all genome-wide association and (exome-) sequencing studies published between November 2008 and October 2018, and identify >800 class-specific metabolite loci associated with metabolite levels. In a twin-family cohort (N = 5117), these metabolite loci are leveraged to simultaneously estimate total heritability (h2total), and the proportion of heritability captured by known metabolite loci (h2Metabolite-hits) for 309 lipids and 52 organic acids. Our study reveals significant differences in h2Metabolite-hits among different classes of lipids and organic acids. Furthermore, phosphatidylcholines with a high degree of unsaturation have higher h2Metabolite-hits estimates than phosphatidylcholines with low degrees of unsaturation. This study highlights the importance of common genetic variants for metabolite levels, and elucidates the genetic architecture of metabolite classes.
- Netherlands Twin Register (NTR)