[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Childhood obesity is associated with an increased risk of atherosclerosis, which can be mediated by an increase in angiogenesis and inflammation. The objective was to investigate the association between body mass index (BMI) and circulating biomarkers of angiogenesis, inflammation, and cardiac dysfunction in children and adolescents.
The Genetic Park Study is a highly inclusive survey conducted in three isolated villages of southern Italy. One hundred fifty-one children and adolescents (age range 5-17 y, 45% male) were included and categorized as obese (BMI z-score ≥ 1.64, n = 38) or non-obese (n = 113). Metabolic and cardiovascular biomarkers included glucose, triacylglycerol, total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), placental growth factor, soluble feline sarcoma virus (fms)-like tyrosine kinase-1, highly sensitive C reactive protein (hs-CRP), highly sensitive troponin T (hs-TnT), and N-terminal prohormone brain natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP).
Obese subjects had higher levels of triacylglycerol (P = 0.03) and hs-CRP (P = 0.02) after adjustment for age and gender. Circulating levels of VEGF were directly associated with BMI z-score (r = 0.22, P = 0.007) and hs-CRP (r = 0.33, P < 0.001). BMI z-score was not associated with biomarkers of cardiac dysfunction (hs-TnT and NT-proBNP).
Increasing BMI was associated with plasma levels hs-CRP and VEGF, which are involved in the initiation and progression of atherosclerosis. The lack of association between BMI and markers of cardiac damage (hs-TnT) or ventricular volume overload (NT-proBNP) suggest that atherosclerotic risk may still at a preclinical stage in this population of obese but otherwise healthy young individuals. Collectively, this suite of biomarkers could provide mechanistic insights into the physiopathologic progression of cardiovascular risk associated with childhood obesity.