Journal of Proteome Research (2018) 17:1586−1595
Metabolism is altered by genetics, diet, disease status, environment, and many other factors. Modeling either one of these is often done without considering the effects of the other covariates. Attributing differences in metabolic profile to one of these factors needs to be done while controlling for the metabolic influence of the rest. We describe here a data analysis framework and novel confounderadjustment algorithm for multivariate analysis of metabolic profiling data. Using simulated data, we show that similar numbers of true associations and significantly less false positives are found compared to other commonly used methods. Covariate-adjusted projections to latent structures (CAPLS) are exemplified here using a large-scale metabolic phenotyping study of two Chinese populations at different risks for cardiovascular disease. Using CA-PLS, we find that some previously reported differences are actually associated with external
factors and discover a number of previously unreported biomarkers linked to different metabolic pathways. CA-PLS can be applied to any multivariate data where confounding may be an issue and the confounder-adjustment procedure is translatable to other multivariate regression techniques.