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Biomarkers in the prediction of multimorbidity: scoping review

By Elizabeth A Spencer, Gary A Ford, Mei Sum Chan, Rafael Perera, Carl Heneghan

Posted 27 Nov 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.11.25.20214999

Background: Multimorbidity presents an increasing challenge in the global ageing population. Predicting its development is necessary to help design and deliver effective healthcare. Objective: This scoping review aimed to collate and present the body of published evidence on biomarkers and multimorbidity, identifying what work has been done and what gaps remain. Methods: We searched the electronic databases MEDLINE, Register of Controlled Trials (Cochrane CENTRAL), CINAHL, PsycINFO, EMBASE, Scopus, Web of Science and TRIP database up until 11 August 2020 and hand-searched the reference lists of included articles. Results: We found 34 relevant studies including 12 reporting prospective data and 22 reporting cross-sectional data. These encompassed 14 studies on serum biomarkers, 2 on molecular biomarkers, 7 on physiological biomarkers, 8 on body size biomarkers and 3 on brain function biomarkers. Most studies were undertaken in European or North American populations. There was a broadly consistent finding that obesity was associated with increased multimorbidity. Other results were more varied, reflecting the diverse range of biomarkers investigated, and lack of standardisation of multimorbidity outcome definitions. Longitudinal studies have been set up that are maturing and further evidence can be expected over time. Conclusion: There has been limited research on biomarkers to predict the development of multimorbidity, with minimal investigation of putative biomarkers identified in basic research. High quality research studies in this area are needed to progress the development of targeted interventions to prevent or delay the onset of multimorbidity.

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