Publication : Body mass index is associated with epigenetic age acceleration in the visceral adipose tissue of subjects with severe obesity
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Background There is solid evidence that obesity induces the acceleration of liver epigenetic aging. However, unlike easily accessible blood or subcutaneous adipose tissue, little is known about the impact of obesity on epigenetic aging of metabolically active visceral adipose tissue (VAT). Herein, we aimed to test whether obesity accelerates VAT epigenetic aging in subjects with severe obesity.
Results A significant and positive correlation between chronological age and epigenetic age, estimated with a reduced version of the Horvath’s epigenetic clock, was found in both blood (r = 0.78, p = 9.4 × 10−12) and VAT (r = 0.80, p = 1.1 × 10−12). Epigenetic age acceleration, defined as the residual resulting from regressing epigenetic age on chronological age, was significantly correlated with body mass index (BMI) in VAT (r = 0.29, p = 0.037). Multivariate linear regression analysis showed that, after adjusting for chronological age, sex and metabolic syndrome status, BMI remained significantly associated with epigenetic age acceleration in VAT (beta = 0.15, p = 0.035), equivalent to 2.3 years for each 10 BMI units. Binomial logistic regression showed that BMI-adjusted epigenetic age acceleration in VAT was significantly associated with a higher loss of excess body weight following biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch surgery (odds ratio = 1.21; 95% CI = 1.04–1.48; p = 0.03).
Conclusions Epigenetic age acceleration increases with BMI in VAT, but not in blood, as previously reported in liver. These results suggest that obesity is associated with epigenetic age acceleration of metabolically active tissues. Further studies that deepen the physiological relevance of VAT epigenetic aging will help to better understand the onset of metabolic syndrome and weight loss dynamics following bariatric surgery.