November 19, 2019

Getting the goods on obesity

Obesity and two post-operative complications linked with it have associated genetic variants in common, suggesting that obesity may be the culprit.

A study in the World Journal of Surgery finds that obesity and two post-operative complications linked with it, incisional hernia and post-op infection, have associated genetic variants in common.

It’s a longstanding question: does obesity influence these complications or is the real culprit some other problem that commonly co-occurs with obesity, such as diabetes? To the extent that the genetic variants at issue in the study betray no links with other patient conditions, they might be a key piece of evidence.

Jamie Robinson, MD, MS, Joshua Denny, MD, MS, and colleagues gathered BMI and post-op complication data for 736,726 patients, confirming that increases in BMI bear a strong association with both complications.

They used 97 obesity-risk genetic variants to construct genetic risk scoring for obesity, and in a second cohort of 65,174 genotyped patients, they found strong associations between higher genetic risk scores and both complications. Obesity, a strong risk factor for these complications, might indeed be the real culprit.

Robinson and Denny were joined by 32 colleagues from Vanderbilt University Medical Center and other institutions in the Electronic Medical Records and Genomics (eMERGE) Network. The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health (LM010685, LM007450, TR000445).