Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

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.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur J Epidemiol

Publication Date





1089 - 1103


Body mass index, Drug discovery, East Asians, Mendelian randomization analysis, Obesity, Proteomics, Humans, Adult, Adiposity, East Asian People, Proteomics, Body Mass Index, Obesity, Mendelian Randomization Analysis, Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide, Extracellular Matrix Proteins, Carrier Proteins, Membrane Proteins