Cross-sectional metabolic profiles of mental health in population-based cohorts of 11- to 12-year-olds and mid-life adults: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children

Katherine Lange, Kate Lycett, Susan Ellul, Richard Saffery, Fiona Mensah, John Carlin, Lisa Gold, Ben Edwards, Peter Azzopardi, Michael Sawyer, Markus Juonala, David Burgner, Melissa Wake

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective: Poorer mental health in adulthood is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and reduced life expectancy. However, little is known of the molecular pathways underpinning this relationship and how early in life adverse metabolite profiles relate to self-reported variation in mental health. We examined cross-sectional associations between mental health and serum metabolites indicative of cardiovascular health, in large Australian population-based cohorts at two stages of the life-course. Methods: We characterised cross-sectional serum nuclear magnetic resonance metabolite profiles of positively and negatively framed mental health in a large population-based sample of Australian 11- to 12-year-olds (n = 1172; 51% girls) and mid-life adults (n = 1322; mean age 45 years; 87% women). We examined multiple standard self-report mental health scales, spanning psychosocial health, general well-being, life satisfaction, and health-related quality of life. Linear regression was used to investigate the cross-sectional association between mental health and each metabolite (n = 73) in children and adults separately, unadjusted and adjusted for age, sex, socioeconomic position and body mass index. Results: Better child and adult mental health were associated with lower levels of the inflammatory marker glycoprotein acetyls, and a favourable, less atherogenic lipid/lipoprotein profile. Patterns of association in children were generally weaker than in adults. Associations were generally modest and partially attenuated when adjusted for body mass index. Conclusions: In general, metabolite profiles associated with better child and adult mental health closely aligned with those predictive of better cardiovascular health in adults. Our findings support previous evidence for the likely bidirectional relationship between mental health and cardiovascular disease risk, by extending this evidence base to the molecular level and in children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)928-937
Number of pages10
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • adolescence
  • adulthood
  • biomarkers
  • Longitudinal Study of Australian Children
  • Mental health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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