The Biomarker GlycA Is Associated with Chronic Inflammation and Predicts Long-Term Risk of Severe Infection

Cell Syst. 2015 Oct 28;1(4):293-301. doi: 10.1016/j.cels.2015.09.007. Epub 2015 Oct 22.


The biomarker glycoprotein acetylation (GlycA) has been shown to predict risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality. Here, we characterize biological processes associated with GlycA by leveraging population-based omics data and health records from >10,000 individuals. Our analyses show that GlycA levels are chronic within individuals for up to a decade. In apparently healthy individuals, elevated GlycA corresponded to elevation of myriad inflammatory cytokines, as well as a gene coexpression network indicative of increased neutrophil activity, suggesting that individuals with high GlycA may be in a state of chronic inflammatory response. Accordingly, analysis of infection-related hospitalization and death records showed that increased GlycA increased long-term risk of severe non-localized and respiratory infections, particularly septicaemia and pneumonia. In total, our work demonstrates that GlycA is a biomarker for chronic inflammation, neutrophil activity, and risk of future severe infection. It also illustrates the utility of leveraging multi-layered omics data and health records to elucidate the molecular and cellular processes associated with biomarkers.