Objective: To determine whether serum gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT) predicts cardiovascular disease (CVD) morbidity and mortality, accounting for temporal changes in known CVD risk factors and C-reactive protein (CRP).
Methods and results: In 3451 Framingham Study participants (mean age 44 years, 52% women) we examined the relations of GGT with CVD risk factors, and prospectively determined the risk of new-onset metabolic syndrome, incident CVD, and death. GGT was positively associated with body mass index, blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood glucose in cross-sectional analysis (P<0.005). On follow-up (mean 19 years), 968 participants developed metabolic syndrome, 535 developed incident CVD, and 362 died. The risk of metabolic syndrome increased with higher GGT (multivariable-adjusted hazard ratio [HR] per SD increment log-GGT, 1.26 [95%CI; 1.18 to 1.35]). Adjusting for established CVD risk factors (as time-dependent covariates updated quadriennially) and baseline CRP, a 1-SD increase in log-GGT conferred a 13% increase in CVD risk (P=0.007) and 26% increased risk of death (P<0.001). Individuals in the highest GGT quartile experienced a 67% increase in CVD incidence (multivariable-adjusted HR 1.67, 95%CI; 1.25 to 2.22).
Conclusions: An increase in serum GGT predicts onset of metabolic syndrome, incident CVD, and death suggesting that GGT is a marker of metabolic and cardiovascular risk.