Association of Triglyceride-Glucose Index and Lung Health: A Population-Based Study

Tianshi David Wu, Ashraf Fawzy, Emily Brigham, Meredith C. McCormack, Ivan Rosas, Dennis T. Villareal, Nicola A. Hanania

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance are associated with worsened outcomes of chronic lung disease. The triglyceride-glucose index (TyG), a measure of metabolic dysfunction, is associated with metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance, but its relationship to lung health is unknown. Research Question: What is the relationship of TyG to respiratory symptoms, chronic lung disease, and lung function? Study Design and Methods: This study analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1999 to 2012. Participants included fasting adults age ≥ 40 years (N = 6,893) with lung function measurements in a subset (n = 3,383). Associations of TyG with respiratory symptoms (cough, phlegm production, wheeze, and exertional dyspnea), chronic lung disease (diagnosed asthma, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema), and lung function (FEV1, FVC, and obstructive or restrictive spirometry pattern) were evaluated, adjusting for sociodemographic variables, comorbidities, and smoking. TyG was compared vs insulin resistance, represented by the homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), and vs the metabolic syndrome. Results: TyG was moderately correlated with HOMA-IR (Spearman ρ = 0.51) and had good discrimination for metabolic syndrome (area under the receiver-operating characteristic curve, 0.80). A one-unit increase in TyG was associated with higher odds of cough (adjusted OR [aOR], 1.28; 95% CI, 1.06-1.54), phlegm production (aOR, 1.20; 95% CI, 1.01-1.43), wheeze (aOR, 1.18; 95% CI, 1.03-1.35), exertional dyspnea (aOR, 1.21; 95% CI, 1.07-1.38), and a diagnosis of chronic bronchitis (aOR, 1.21; 95% CI, 1.02-1.43). TyG was associated with higher relative risk of a restrictive spirometry pattern (adjusted relative risk ratio, 1.45; 95% CI, 1.11-1.90). Many associations were maintained with additional adjustment for HOMA-IR or metabolic syndrome. Interpretation: TyG was associated with respiratory symptoms, chronic bronchitis, and a restrictive spirometry pattern. Associations were not fully explained by insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome. TyG is a satisfactory measure of metabolic dysfunction with relevance to pulmonary outcomes. Prospective study to define TyG as a biomarker for impaired lung health is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1026-1034
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • dyslipidemia
  • insulin resistance
  • lung health
  • metabolic disease
  • spirometry
  • triglyceride-glucose index

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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