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Diet affects glycosylation of serum proteins in women at risk for cardiometabolic disease.



Glycoproteomics deals with glycoproteins that are formed by post-translational modification when sugars (like fucose and sialic acid) are attached to protein. Glycosylation of proteins influences function, but whether glycosylation is altered by diet is unknown.


To evaluate the effect of consuming a diet based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans on circulating glycoproteins that have previously been associated with cardiometabolic diseases.


Forty-four women, with one or more metabolic syndrome characteristics, completed an 8-week randomized controlled feeding intervention (n = 22) consuming a diet based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA 2010); the remaining consumed a 'typical American diet' (TAD, n = 22). Fasting serum samples were obtained at week0 (baseline) and week8 (post-intervention); 17 serum proteins were chosen for targeted analyses. Protein standards and serum samples were analyzed in a UHPLC-MS protocol to determine peptide concentration and their glycan (fucosylation or sialylation) profiles. Data at baseline were used in correlational analyses; change in proteins and glycans following intervention were used in non-parametric analyses.


At baseline, women with more metabolic syndrome characteristics had more fucosylation (total di-fucosylated proteins: p = 0.045) compared to women with a lesser number of metabolic syndrome characteristics. Dietary refined grain intake was associated with increased total fucosylation (ρ = - 0.530, p < 0.001) and reduced total sialylation (ρ = 0.311, p = 0.042). After the 8-week intervention, there was higher sialylation following the DGA diet (Total di-sialylated protein p = 0.018, poly-sialylated orosomucoid p = 0.012) compared to the TAD diet.


Based on this study, glycosylation of proteins is likely affected by dietary patterns; higher sialylation was associated with a healthier diet pattern. Altered glycosylation is associated with several diseases, particularly cancer and type 2 diabetes, and this study raises the possibility that diet may influence disease state by altering glycosylation.

Clinical trial registration

NCT02298725 at; .

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