Metabolomic phenotyping of obesity for profiling cardiovascular and ocular diseases

Pingting Zhong, Shaoying Tan, Zhuoting Zhu, Gabriella Bulloch, Erping Long, Wenyong Huang, Mingguang He (Corresponding Author), Wei Wang (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: We aimed to evaluate the impacts of metabolomic body mass index (metBMI) phenotypes on the risks of cardiovascular and ocular diseases outcomes. 

Methods: This study included cohorts in UK and Guangzhou, China. By leveraging the serum metabolome and BMI data from UK Biobank, this study developed and validated a metBMI prediction model using a ridge regression model among 89,830 participants based on 249 metabolites. Five obesity phenotypes were obtained by metBMI and actual BMI (actBMI): normal weight (NW, metBMI of 18.5–24.9 kg/m2), overweight (OW, metBMI of 25–29.9 kg/m2), obesity (OB, metBMI ≥ 30 kg/m2), overestimated (OE, metBMI-actBMI > 5 kg/m2), and underestimated (UE, metBMI-actBMI < − 5 kg/m2). Additional participants from the Guangzhou Diabetes Eye Study (GDES) were included for validating the hypothesis. Outcomes included all-cause and cardiovascular (CVD)-cause mortality, as well as incident CVD (coronary heart disease, heart failure, myocardial infarction [MI], and stroke) and age-related eye diseases (age-related macular degeneration [AMD], cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy [DR]). 

Results: In the UKB, although OE group had lower actBMI than NW group, the OE group had a significantly higher risk of all-cause mortality than those in NW prediction group (HR, 1.68; 95% CI 1.16–2.43). Similarly, the OE group had a 1.7–3.6-fold higher risk than their NW counterparts for cardiovascular mortality, heart failure, myocardial infarction, and coronary heart disease (all P < 0.05). In addition, risk of age-related macular denegation (HR, 1.96; 95% CI 1.02–3.77) was significantly higher in OE group. In the contrast, UE and OB groups showed similar risks of mortality and of cardiovascular and age-related eye diseases (all P > 0.05), though the UE group had significantly higher actBMI than OB group. In the GDES cohort, we further confirmed the potential of metabolic BMI (metBMI) fingerprints for risk stratification of cardiovascular diseases using a different metabolomic approach. 

Conclusions: Gaps of metBMI and actBMI identified novel metabolic subtypes, which exhibit distinctive cardiovascular and ocular risk profiles. The groups carrying obesity-related metabolites were at higher risk of mortality and morbidity than those with normal health metabolites. Metabolomics allowed for leveraging the future of diagnosis and management of ‘healthily obese’ and ‘unhealthily lean’ individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number384
JournalJournal of Translational Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2023


  • Age-related eye disease
  • Comorbidity
  • Metabolome
  • Mortality
  • NMR
  • Obesity
  • Systemic diseases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology


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