Metabolomic profiles of chronic distress are associated with cardiovascular disease risk and inflammation-related risk factors.

Brain, behavior, and immunity

BACKGROUND: Chronic psychological distress is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and investigators have posited inflammatory factors may be centrally involved in these relationships. However, mechanistic evidence and molecular underpinnings of these processes remain unclear, and data are particularly sparse among women. This study examined if a metabolite profile linked with distress would be associated with increased CVD risk and inflammation-related risk factors.

METHODS: A plasma metabolite-based distress score (MDS) of twenty chronic psychological distress-related metabolites was developed in cross-sectional, 1:1 matched case-control data comprised of 558 women from the Nurses' Health Study (NHS; 279 women with distress, 279 controls). This MDS was then evaluated in two other cohorts: the Women's Health Initiative Observational Cohort (WHI-OS) and the Prevención con Dieta Mediterránea (PREDIMED) trial. We tested the MDS's association with risk of future CVD in each sample and with levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) in the WHI-OS. The WHI-OS subsample included 944 postmenopausal women (472 CHD cases; mean time to event=5.8 years), the PREDIMED subsample included 980 men and women (224 CVD cases, mean time to event=3.1 years).

RESULTS: In the WHI-OS, a 1-SD increase in the plasma MDS was associated with a 20% increased incident CHD risk (odds ratio [OR]=1.20, 95% CI: 1.04 - 1.38), adjusting for known CVD risk factors excluding total and HDL cholesterol. This association was attenuated after including total and HDL cholesterol. CRP mediated an average 12.9% (95% CI: 4.9% - 28%, p <10) of the total effect of MDS on CHD risk, when adjusting for matching factors. This effect was attenuated after adjusting for known CVD risk factors. Of the metabolites in the MDS, tryptophan and threonine were inversely associated with incident CHD risk in univariate models. In PREDIMED, each one SD increase in the MDS was associated with an OR of 1.19 (95% CI: 1.00 - 1.41) for incident CVD risk, after adjusting all risk factors. Similar associations were observed in men and women. Four metabolites in the MDS were associated with incident CVD risk in PREDIMED in univariate models. Biliverdin and C36:5 phosphatidylcholine (PC) plasmalogen had inverse associations; C16:0 ceramide and C18:0 lysophosphatidylethanolamine(LPE) each had positive associations with CVD risk.

CONCLUSIONS: Our study points to molecular alterations that may underlie the association between chronic distress and subsequent risk of cardiovascular disease in adults.

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Brain, behavior, and immunity
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