Background: Viruses and bacteria like Chlamydia pneumoniae and Helicobacter pylori have been suggested to have a role in pathogenesis of overweight and obesity.
Objective: We studied whether C. pneumoniae-specific IgG antibodies are associated with elevated body mass index (BMI), waist and hip circumference, and/or waist-hip ratio (WHR), and whether the risk is more pronounced in the simultaneous presence of an ongoing inflammation as measured by elevated high-sensitive C-reactive protein (hsCRP) levels.
Subjects and methods: Our study population was derived from the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 (NFBC1966), a general population sample of 12,058 live-born children. This cross-sectional study consisted of 5044 persons at 31 years of age. Serum C. pneumoniae IgG titers were measured by microimmunofluorescence test, and hsCRP levels by immunoenzymometric assay.
Results: C. pneumoniae IgG positivity (titer ≥ 32), both alone and jointly with elevated hsCRP (≥ 1.64 mg l(-1), an upper quartile), was found to significantly associate with elevated BMI in the whole study population and with elevated hip and waist circumference in women, yet no association with WHR was seen. The analyses were adjusted for sex (when appropriate), smoking, socioeconomic position, glucose, insulin, high- and low-density lipoprotein cholesterols, triglycerides, leukocytes and pulse pressure.
Conclusion: These findings suggest that especially in women, persistent C. pneumoniae infection may be associated with overweight/obesity, independently of more traditional risk factors.