Adverse Outcomes in Obese Cardiac Surgery Patients Correlates With Altered Branched-Chain Amino Acid Catabolism in Adipose Tissue and Heart

Dipsikha Biswas, Kathleen Tozer, Khoi T. Dao, Lester J. Perez, Angella Mercer, Amy Brown, Intekhab Hossain, Alexandra M. Yip, Christie Aguiar, Hany Motawea, Keith R. Brunt, Jennifer Shea, Jean F. Legare, Ansar Hassan, Petra C. Kienesberger, Thomas Pulinilkunnil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Predicting relapses of post-operative complications in obese patients who undergo cardiac surgery is significantly complicated by persistent metabolic maladaptation associated with obesity. Despite studies supporting the linkages of increased systemic branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) driving the pathogenesis of obesity, metabolome wide studies have either supported or challenged association of circulating BCAAs with cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). Objective: We interrogated whether BCAA catabolic changes precipitated by obesity in the heart and adipose tissue can be reliable prognosticators of adverse outcomes following cardiac surgery. Our study specifically clarified the correlation between BCAA catabolizing enzymes, cellular BCAAs and branched-chain keto acids (BCKAs) with the severity of cardiometabolic outcomes in obese patients pre and post cardiac surgery. Methods: Male and female patients of ages between 44 and 75 were stratified across different body mass index (BMI) (non-obese = 17, pre-obese = 19, obese class I = 14, class II = 17, class III = 12) and blood, atrial appendage (AA), and subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) collected during cardiac surgery. Plasma and intracellular BCAAs and BC ketoacids (BCKAs), tissue mRNA and protein expression and activity of BCAA catabolizing enzymes were assessed and correlated with clinical parameters. Results: Intramyocellular, but not systemic, BCAAs increased with BMI in cardiac surgery patients. In SAT, from class III obese patients, mRNA and protein expression of BCAA catabolic enzymes and BCKA dehydrogenase (BCKDH) enzyme activity was decreased. Within AA, a concomitant increase in mRNA levels of BCAA metabolizing enzymes was observed, independent of changes in BCKDH protein expression or activity. BMI, indices of tissue dysfunction and duration of hospital stay following surgery correlated with BCAA metabolizing enzyme expression and metabolite levels in AA and SAT. Conclusion: This study proposes that in a setting of obesity, dysregulated BCAA catabolism could be an effective surrogate to determine cardiac surgery outcomes and plausibly predict premature re-hospitalization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number534
JournalFrontiers in Endocrinology
StatePublished - Aug 7 2020


  • BCAA
  • BCAA metabolism
  • atrial appendage
  • cardiac surgery
  • obesity
  • subcutaneous adipose

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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