Obesity, Inflammation, and Clinical Outcomes in COVID-19: A Multicenter Prospective Cohort Study

Christina G Hutten, Kishan Padalia, Alexi Vasbinder, Yiyuan Huang, Anis Ismail, Ian Pizzo, Kristen Machado Diaz, Tonimarie Catalan, Feriel Presswalla, Elizabeth Anderson, Grace Erne, Brayden Bitterman, Pennelope Blakely, Evangelos J Giamarellos-Bourboulis, Sven H Loosen, Frank Tacke, Athanasios Chalkias, Jochen Reiser, Jesper Eugen-Olsen, Mousumi BanerjeeRodica Pop-Busui, Salim S Hayek


CONTEXT: Obesity is a risk factor for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)-related outcomes; however, the mechanism remains unclear.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this analysis was to determine whether inflammation mediates the association between obesity and COVID-19 outcomes.

DESIGN: The International Study of Inflammation in Covid-19 (ISIC): A Prospective Multi-Center Observational Study Examining the Role of Biomarkers of Inflammation in Predicting Covid-19 Related Outcomes in Hospitalized Patients.

SETTING: Ten hospitals in the United States and Europe.

PARTICIPANTS: Adults hospitalized specifically for COVID-19 between February 1, 2020, through October 19, 2022.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Inflammatory biomarkers, including soluble urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (suPAR), were measured at admission. Associations were examined between body-mass index (BMI, kg/m2) and a composite of death, need for mechanical ventilation, and renal replacement therapy, stratified by pre- and post-Omicron variants. The contribution of inflammation to the relationship between obesity and outcomes was assessed.

RESULTS: Among 4644 participants (mean age 59.3, 45.6% male, 21.8% BMI≥35), those with BMI>40 (n=485) had 55% higher odds of the composite outcome (95% CI[1.21 to 1.98]) compared to non-obese individuals (BMI<30, n=2358) in multivariable analysis. In multiple mediation analysis, only suPAR remained a significant mediator between BMI and composite outcome. Associations were amplified for participants younger than 65 years and with pre-Omicron variants.

CONCLUSION: Obesity is associated with worse outcomes in COVID-19, notably in younger participants and in the pre-Omicron era. Inflammation, as measured by suPAR, is a significant mediator of the association between obesity and COVID-19 outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Apr 2024


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