Numerous studies have linked visceral adipose tissue (VAT) to gastrointestinal diseases. However, it remains unclear whether these associations reflect causal relationships.
We used a two-sample Mendelian randomization (MR) approach to elucidate the causal effect of VAT on nine non-tumour gastrointestinal diseases. The inverse-variance weighted method was used to perform the MR analyses. Complementary and multivariable MR analyses were performed to confirm the results.
Genetically predicted higher VAT was associated with an increased risk of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) (odds ratio [OR], 1.21; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.09–1.34; P = 3.06 × 10−4), duodenal ulcer (DU) (OR, 1.40; 95% CI, 1.10–1.77; P = 0.005), cholelithiasis (OR, 1.75; 95% CI, 1.53–2.00; P = 1.14 × 10−16), and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) (OR, 2.68; 95% CI, 1.87–3.82; P = 6.26 × 10−8). There were suggestive associations between VAT and gastric ulcer (GU) (OR, 1.22; 95% CI, 1.01–1.48; P = 0.035) and acute pancreatitis (AP) (OR, 1.26; 95% CI, 1.05–1.52; P = 0.013). However, there was little evidence to support the associations between VAT and inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, or chronic pancreatitis. The associations with GORD, GU, and NAFLD remained in the multivariable MR analyses with adjustment for body mass index (BMI).
This study provided evidence in support of causal associations between VAT and GORD, GU, DU, cholelithiasis, AP, and NAFLD. Moreover, the associations between GORD, GU, and NAFLD were independent of the effect of BMI.
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The data used in this study were publicly available and can be accessed via the links described in the supplementary material. The R-code used for this study is available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
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We want to acknowledge all the participants and investigators of the GWAS involved in the present study for generously sharing the summary-level data.
This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 81873484).
The authors declare no competing interests.
We used summary-level data from published studies and publicly available GWAS with ethical approval obtained from their respective institutional review boards and informed consent provided by their participants.
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Sun, X., Yuan, Y., Chen, L. et al. Genetically predicted visceral adipose tissue and risk of nine non-tumour gastrointestinal diseases: evidence from a Mendelian randomization study. Int J Obes (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41366-023-01279-4