Is obesity a possible risk factor for Clostridium difficile infection

Aditya Praveen Lal, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Aims: Obesity is a state of chronic inflammation characterized by depressed Th2 immune response. Animal studies have shown decreased IgA levels in obese rats and Leptin an adipose cell origin cytokine have been shown to enhance the activity of Clostridium difficile Toxin A. Hence we hypothesized that obesity is a risk factor for C. difficile infection (CDI) Methods: 33 cases of CDI and 131 controls matched by age and HORNS index were identified from an IRB approved observational study at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital in Houston. Variables like age, gender, height, weight, chronic antibiotic use, proton pump inhibitor use, diabetes mellitus, myocardial infarction, inflammatory bowel disease, diverticulitis, transfer from nursing home, hospital or home, nasogastric tube use and use of hemodialysis were provided in the dataset. Height and weight of the patient were used to calculate the BMI, based on which the study subjects were classified as obese and non-obese. Using STATA these variables were analyzed using test, chi square test followed by conditional logistic regression. Results: On univariate analysis and conditional logistic regression, no significant increase in risk was associated with obesity (OR: 1.24; 95% CI: 0.46 - 3.36; p = 0.67) or BMI (OR: 0.98; CI: 0.92 - 1.04; p = 0.92). Hence, we cannot reject our hypothesis and conclude that "obesity is a risk factor associated with higher incidence of CDI in hospitalized patients. On univariate analysis using hemodialysis, nursing home transfer, home transfer, PPI and chronic antibiotics were found to be significantly different (p<0.05) in the cases and controls. On conditional logistic regression home (OR: 3.4; 95% CI: 1.15 - 9.61) and hemodialysis (OR: 4.1; 95% CI: 1.14 - 15.57) were found to be significantly different (p<0.05) between the case and control groups. Conclusion: Our results show that obesity is not a significant risk factor for CDI. Our sample size was small and hence this may need conformation with a larger study. Patients transferred from home to the hospital and patients on hemodialysis had significantly higher incidence of CDI.

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Recommended Citation

Lal, Aditya Praveen, "Is obesity a possible risk factor for Clostridium difficile infection" (2012). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1515659.