Adiposity and plasma concentrations of kynurenine pathway metabolites and traditional markers of inflammation

Mengmei E. Wang, Allison M. Hodge, Sherly X. Li, Melissa C. Southey, Graham G. Giles, Pierre Antoine Dugué

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Aim: The kynurenine pathway is increasingly recognised to play a role in inflammation and disease. We assessed the cross-sectional and longitudinal associations of adiposity measures (body mass index, waist-hip ratio, waist circumference and fat mass ratio) with plasma concentrations of kynurenine pathway metabolites and traditional markers of inflammation. Methods: We used data from 970 Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study participants who had plasma markers measured at baseline (median age 59 years) and follow-up (median age 70 years). Linear regression was used to assess cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between four adiposity measures and concentrations of i) nine kynurenine pathway metabolites; ii) two derived markers; iii) eight traditional inflammatory markers. Results: Cross-sectionally, most kynurenine metabolites were strongly associated with adiposity measures at both time points; associations were generally stronger than for most inflammation markers except CRP (e.g. body mass index at baseline, quinolinic acid (per S.D. β = 0.30, 95%CI: 0.24–0.36, P = 10−21), kynurenine (β = 0.25, 95%CI: 0.19–0.31, P = 10−16) and CRP (β = 0.31, 95%CI: 0.25–0.37, P = 10−24), and remained largely unchanged after adjustment for confounders. Longitudinally, changes in adiposity measures over approximately a decade were positively associated with changes in kynurenine metabolite concentrations (in particular for 3-hydroxyanthranilic acid, kynurenine and quinolinic acid), and more strongly so than for other markers of inflammation, including CRP. Conclusions: In middle-aged and older adults, plasma concentrations of kynurenine metabolites are strongly associated with adiposity, both cross-sectionally and longitudinally. Our study demonstrates that kynurenine metabolites may be valuable markers to monitor the adverse consequences of obesity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-209
Number of pages7
JournalObesity Research and Clinical Practice
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2023


  • Aging
  • Body composition
  • Body size
  • Inflammation
  • Tryptophan kynurenine pathway

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