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Approved research

Elucidation of the causal role of iron status on anemia and on cardiometabolic syndrome in White and Han Chinese ethnic groups using Mendelian randomization analysis

Principal Investigator: Ms Vanessa Joy Timoteo
Approved Research ID: 48272
Approval date: March 26th 2019

Lay summary

Among the most common diseases in humans are disorders related to the metabolism of iron, ranging from anemia to hemochromatosis. From the most recent available data of the WHO, anemia remained to be a global public health problem. Meanwhile, a number of epidemiological studies have recently implicated elevated iron levels in higher risk for cardiometabolic diseases. Cardiometabolic syndrome (CMS), which is now a disease entity recognized by the WHO, encompasses metabolic dysfunctions mainly characterized by insulin resistance, impaired glucose tolerance, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and central adiposity, which will lead to major cardiovascular events. An epidemic of CMS among Chinese has been recognized for some time as a result of genetic susceptibility and lifestyle changes associated with modernization and urbanization. Similarly in the UK, CMS is also estimated to affect one in four adults. Major risk factors include diet, sedentary lifestyle, and genetic variants among others. The proposed study aims to search for genetic as well as environmental determinants of poor iron nutrition and iron overload. We will examine whether genetics play a role on anemia risk and whether iron overload, due to environmental factors or genetics, may increase risk of diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, cardiovascular diseases, and other forms of non-communicable diseases. We will compare findings obtained from the UK Biobank and from the Taiwan Biobank and try to explain the difference in risk of anemia and cardiometabolic diseases between two ethnic groups. The proposed study will contribute significantly in improving public health and better understanding of iron physiology. (1) It will result in methods to screen high-risk subgroups for poor iron nutrition and iron overload. Therefore, susceptible people may be cautioned and educated early for disease prevention. (2) It will confirm whether there is a role of iron excess on the development of cardiometabolic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and cardiovascular diseases. This knowledge may be adopted in disease prevention strategies. (3) Comparing the genetic determinants between two ethnic groups may provide further understanding of the iron homeostasis mechanism. We are proposing for the completion of the study in 24 months.