October 17, 2023

Lifestyle factors, serum parameters, metabolic comorbidities, and the risk of kidney stones: a Mendelian randomization study

M Liu et al, 2023. Lifestyle factors, serum parameters, metabolic comorbidities, and the risk of kidney stones: a Mendelian randomization study, Frontiers in Endocrinology. 

Background and objective: The early identification of modifiable risk factors is important for preventing kidney stones but determining causal associations can be difficult with epidemiological data. We aimed to genetically assess the causality between modifiable factors (lifestyle factors, serum parameters, and metabolic comorbidities) and the risk of kidney stones. Additionally, we aimed to explore the causal impact of education on kidney stones and its potential mediating pathways.

Methods: We conducted a two-sample Mendelian randomization (MR) study to explore the causal association between 44 modifiable risk factors and kidney stones. The FinnGen dataset initially explored the causal relationship of risk factors with kidney stones and the UK Biobank dataset was used as the validation set. Then, a meta-analysis was conducted by combining discovery and validation datasets. We used two-step MR to assess potential mediators and their mediation proportions between education and kidney stones.

Results: The combined results indicated that previous exposures may increase the risk of kidney stones, including sedentary behavior, urinary sodium, the urinary sodium/potassium ratio, the urinary sodium/creatinine ratio, serum calcium, 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD), the estimated creatinine-based glomerular filtration rate (eGFRcrea), GFR estimated by serum cystatin C (eGFRcys), body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), fasting insulin, glycated hemoglobin, and hypertension. Coffee intake, plasma caffeine levels, educational attainment, and the urinary potassium/creatinine ratio may decrease the risk of kidney stones. Ranked by mediation proportion, the effect of education on the risk of kidney stones was mediated by five modifiable risk factors, including sedentary behavior (mediation proportion, 25.7%), smoking initiation (10.2%), BMI (8.2%), T2DM (5.8%), and waist circumference (3.2%).

Conclusion: This study provides MR evidence supporting causal associations of many modifiable risk factors with kidney stones. Sedentary lifestyles, obesity, smoking, and T2DM are mediating factors in the causal relationship between educational attainment and kidney stones. Our results suggest more attention should be paid to these modifiable factors to prevent kidney stones.

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