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Journal of The American College of Cardiology


Background: Trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), a gut microbiota metabolite from dietary phosphatidylcholine, has mechanistic links to atherosclerotic coronary artery disease (CAD) pathogenesis and is associated with adverse outcomes. Objectives: This study sought to examine the relationship between plasma TMAO levels and the complexity and burden of CAD and degree of subclinical myonecrosis. Methods: We studied 353 consecutive stable patients with evidence of atherosclerotic CAD detected by elective coronary angiography between 2012 and 2014. Their high-sensitivity cardiac troponin T (hs-cTnT) levels were measured. SYNTAX (Synergy Between Percutaneous Coronary Intervention With Taxus and Cardiac Surgery) scores and lesion characteristics were used to quantify atherosclerotic burden. Fasting plasma TMAO was measured by mass spectrometry. Results: In this prospective cohort study, the median TMAO level was 5.5 μM (interquartile range [IQR]: 3.4 to 9.8 μM), the median SYNTAX score was 11.0 (IQR: 4.0 to 18.5), and 289 (81.9%), 40 (11.3%), and 24 (6.8%) patients had low (0 to 22), intermediate (23 to 32), and high (≥33) SYNTAX scores, respectively. Plasma TMAO levels correlated (all p < 0.0001) with the SYNTAX score (r = 0.61), SYNTAX score II (r = 0.62), and hs-cTnT (r = 0.29). Adjusting for traditional risk factors, body mass index, medications, lesion characteristic, renal function, and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, elevated TMAO levels remained independently associated with a higher SYNTAX score (odds ratio [OR]: 4.82; p < 0.0001), SYNTAX score II (OR: 1.88; p = 0.0001), but were not associated with subclinical myonecrosis (OR: 1.14; p = 0.3147). Elevated TMAO level was an independent predictor of the presence of diffuse lesions, even after adjustments for traditional risk factors and for hs-cTnT (OR: 2.05; 95% confidence interval: 1.45 to 2.90; p = 0.0001). Conclusions: Fasting plasma TMAO levels are an independent predictor of a high atherosclerotic burden in patients with CAD.


This research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Office of Dietary Supplements (R01HL103866, P20HL113452, R01DK106000). The BioBank study has been supported by NIH grants P01HL076491, P01HL098055, R01HL103931, and the Cleveland Clinic Clinical Research Unit of the Case Western Reserve University CTSA (UL1TR 000439). Mass spectrometry studies were performed on instruments housed in a facility supported in part by a Center of Innovations Award by AB SCIEX. High-sensitivity cardiac troponin T testing reagents were provided by Roche Diagnostics. Dr. Wang was partially supported by NIH grant R01HL130819.









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