The Triglyceride-Glucose Index and Obesity-Related Risk of End-Stage Kidney Disease in Austrian Adults

JAMA Netw Open. 2021 Mar 1;4(3):e212612. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.2612.


Importance: It is unknown whether the triglyceride-glucose (TyG) index as a measure of insulin resistance is associated with the risk of developing end-stage kidney disease (ESKD). Because individuals who are overweight or obese often develop insulin resistance, mediation of the association between body mass index (BMI) and ESKD risk through the TyG index seems plausible but has not been investigated.

Objective: To evaluate whether the TyG index is associated with ESKD risk and, if so, to what extent the TyG index mediates the association between BMI and ESKD.

Design, setting, and participants: A total of 176 420 individuals were recruited during routine health examinations to participate in the Austrian Vorarlberg Health Monitoring and Promotion Program (VHM&PP), a prospective, population-based cohort study with participant enrollment between January 1, 1988, and June 30, 2005, and a mean follow-up of 22.7 years. Data analysis was conducted from March 1, 2020, to September 30, 2020.

Exposures: Body mass index and the logarithmized product of fasting triglyceride and glucose concentrations (TyG index), as determined during the baseline health examination.

Main outcomes and measures: End-stage kidney disease, as indicated by initiation of kidney replacement therapy, either dialysis or kidney transplantation.

Results: Of the 176 420 participants, 94 885 were women (53.8%); mean (SD) age was 42.5 (15.4) years. During a mean (SD) follow-up of 22.7 (6.9) years, 454 (0.3%) participants developed ESKD and 35 234 (20.0%) died. In multivariable-adjusted Cox proportional hazards models, the TyG index was significantly associated with the risk of ESKD, both with (hazard ratio [HR] per 1-SD increase, 1.68; 95% CI, 1.56-1.82) and without (HR per 1-SD increase, 1.79; 95% CI, 1.66-1.93) the inclusion of BMI as a covariate. Mediation analysis using a newly proposed 2-stage regression method for survival data showed that a 5-point increase in BMI increased the risk of ESKD by 58% (HR [total association], 1.58; 95% CI, 1.43-1.75), and that 41.7% of the total association (95% CI, 31.6%-51.8%) was mediated through the TyG index (HR [indirect association], 1.21; 95% CI, 1.18-1.25).

Conclusions and relevance: This study found that the TyG index appeared to be associated with ESKD risk and mediates nearly half of the total association between BMI and ESKD in the general population. Public health efforts aiming at the reduction of body weight might decrease the kidney sequelae of insulin resistance and the burden of ESKD.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Austria / epidemiology
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Forecasting*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / blood*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / epidemiology
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / etiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Triglycerides / blood*


  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Glucose
  • Triglycerides