Adiposity is associated with multiple diseases and traits, but little is known about the causal relevance and mechanisms underlying these associations. Large-scale proteomic profiling, especially when integrated with genetic data, can clarify mechanisms linking adiposity with disease outcomes. We examined the associations of adiposity with plasma levels of 1463 proteins in 3977 Chinese adults, using measured and genetically-instrumented BMI. We further used two-sample bi-directional MR analyses to assess if certain proteins influenced adiposity, along with other (e.g. enrichment) analyses to clarify possible mechanisms underlying the observed associations. Overall, the mean (SD) baseline BMI was 23.9 (3.3) kg/m2, with only 6% being obese (i.e. BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2). Measured and genetically-instrumented BMI was significantly associated at FDR 90%) in Europeans of UKB (mean BMI 27.4 kg/m2). Enrichment analyses of the top > 50 BMI-associated proteins demonstrated their involvement in atherosclerosis, lipid metabolism, tumour progression and inflammation. Two-sample bi-directional MR analyses using cis-pQTLs identified in CKB GWAS found eight proteins (ITIH3, LRP11, SCAMP3, NUDT5, OGN, EFEMP1, TXNDC15, PRDX6) significantly affect levels of BMI, with NUDT5 also showing bi-directional association. The findings among relatively lean Chinese adults identified novel pathways by which adiposity may increase disease risks and novel potential targets for treatment of obesity and obesity-related diseases.
Eur J Epidemiol
Body mass index, Drug discovery, East Asians, Mendelian randomization analysis, Obesity, Proteomics