Eline Slagboom



Professor Dr. P.Eline Slagboom


Title of Presentation

Metabolomics studies in BBMRI.Nl: on disease risk, healthy ageing and mortality


Date and Place

Session: C4 – 2


Speaker Biography

Professor P. Eline Slagboom, biologist, is head of Molecular Epidemiology at the Leiden University Medical Center. Studies in her group are aimed at the identification of biomarkers and causal pathways for metabolic health, age-related disease and longevity. The section of Molecular Epidemiology is embedded in the department of Medical Statistics and Bioinformatics. Focus of the research in the past 10 years is on genomic determinants (genetic, genomic, epigenetic), biomarker, functional genomic and intervention studies of healthy/unhealthy aging and longevity in humans. In addition to the focus on ageing, the group has developed expertise specifically in the field of osteoarthritis (dr Ingrid Meulenbelt) and epigenetic epidemiology (Dr Bastiaan Heijmans). Slagboom is PI of the Leiden Longevity Study, chair of the Medical Research Profile on Aging at LUMC and has a leading role in large consortia within ageing research. She was co-director of the Netherlands Consortium for Healthy Ageing, in the board of large scale EU collaborative research projects (GEHA) and PI of a large scale collaborative EU project (IDEAL: Integrated research on DEvelopmental determinants of Aging and Longevity). She is member of various boards and scientific bodies, among which BBMRI.Nl (Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources Research Infrastructure) in The Netherlands. She organised the infrastructure for national efforts in metabolomics (25 cohorts) in BBMRI together with professors Boomsma and Van Duijn. Furthermore she is chair of DUSRA – Dutch Society for Research on Ageing and Section Editor of Aging Cell. For the aforementioned activities see www.molepi.nl , www.ideal-ageing.eu and www.nvvvo.nl.



Despite the continuous increase in life expectancy in our societies, the diversity in health span is enormous, ranging from unhealthy 60- to vital 90-year-olds and displays considerable gender effects (http://ec.europa.eu/health/indicators).

The diversity in the rate and nature of physiological decline among elderly is to a great extend driven by changes in metabolism and immunity. This diversity especially at higher ages is poorly marked and understood and obscures the effect of interventions and treatments. Traditionally metabolic health is measured by serum insulin and lipids, blood pressure and BMI, but among the fastest growing population of elderly the predictive power of these parameters declines. The omics field is making progress in recording changes in metabolite composition, glycosylation, transcriptome and epigenetic regulation of the nuclear and mitochondrial genome, gut microbiome composition and somatic DNA sequence changes with ageing. In our attempts to use such data as biomarker in research on age-related disease and longevity we witness the signatures of early development in addition to age-related changes.

BBMRI.Nl has developed an infrastructure and research program investigating omics data from both the perspective of novel biomarkers and novel understanding. We will discuss the efforts in the field of metabolomics. We measured biobanked material from population and patient based studies and from intervention studies by using the same metabolomics platforms. We investigated 30.000 individuals to record the association of generic and specific metabolites to a variety of diseases, to healthy ageing and to mortality. For ageing studies the ultimate aim of biomarker research is to catch variation representing biological age, reporting on physiological differences between elderly that influence the outcome of interventions. The question is whether we can classify heterogeneous elderly on the basis of novel biomarkers to assist in the development of personalised medicine.