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Longitudinal Plasma Measures of Trimethylamine N-Oxide and Risk of Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease Events in Community-Based Older Adults.


Background Trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) is a gut microbiota-dependent metabolite of dietary choline, L-carnitine, and phosphatidylcholine-rich foods. On the basis of experimental studies and patients with prevalent disease, elevated plasma TMAO may increase risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD). TMAO is also renally cleared and may interact with and causally contribute to renal dysfunction. Yet, how serial TMAO levels relate to incident and recurrent ASCVD in community-based populations and the potential mediating or modifying role of renal function are not established. Methods and Results We investigated associations of serial measures of plasma TMAO, assessed at baseline and 7 years, with incident and recurrent ASCVD in a community-based cohort of 4131 (incident) and 1449 (recurrent) older US adults. TMAO was measured using stable isotope dilution liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (laboratory coefficient of variation, <6%). Incident ASCVD (myocardial infarction, fatal coronary heart disease, stroke, sudden cardiac death, or other atherosclerotic death) was centrally adjudicated using medical records. Risk was assessed by multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression, including time-varying demographics, lifestyle factors, medical history, laboratory measures, and dietary habits. Potential mediating effects and interaction by estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) were assessed. During prospective follow-up, 1766 incident and 897 recurrent ASCVD events occurred. After multivariable adjustment, higher levels of TMAO were associated with a higher risk of incident ASCVD, with extreme quintile hazard ratio (HR) compared with the lowest quintile=1.21 (95% CI, 1.02-1.42; P-trend=0.029). This relationship appeared mediated or confounded by eGFR (eGFR-adjusted HR, 1.07; 95% CI, 0.90-1.27), as well as modified by eGFR (P-interaction <0.001). High levels of TMAO were associated with higher incidence of ASCVD in the presence of impaired renal function (eGFR <60 mL/min per 1.73 m2: HR, 1.56 [95% CI, 1.13-2.14]; P-trend=0.007), but not normal or mildly reduced renal function (eGFR ≥60 mL/min per 1.73 m2: HR, 1.03 [95% CI, 0.85-1.25]; P-trend=0.668). Among individuals with prior ASCVD, TMAO associated with higher risk of recurrent ASCVD (HR, 1.25 [95% CI, 1.01-1.56]; P-trend=0.009), without significant modification by eGFR. Conclusions In this large community-based cohort of older US adults, serial measures of TMAO were associated with higher risk of incident ASCVD, with apparent modification by presence of impaired renal function and with higher risk of recurrent ASCVD.

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