Visceral adipose tissue (VAT) is widely recognized as conveying the highest health risk in humans among the currently measurable adipose tissue compartments. A recent study indicated that the traditionally measured VAT area at L4–L5 is not the VAT area with the highest correlation with total VAT volume. At present, it is unknown whether the area with the highest correlation is also the most strongly associated with obesity-related health risk.
The study aim was to establish which VAT slice area(s) are most strongly associated with obesity-related health risk indicators.
The subjects were a convenience sample of healthy adults who completed whole-body magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. The correlations, with appropriate adjustments, were examined between individual MRI slice VAT areas and fasting serum/plasma triglycerides (TG), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL), glucose, insulin and blood pressure.
The sample consisted of 283 healthy men (age (mean±s.d.) 41.9±15.8 years; BMI, 26.0±3.2 kg/m2; VAT, 2.7±1.8 L) and 411 women (age, 48.1±18.7 years; BMI 27.0±5.4 kg/m2; VAT, 1.7±1.2 L). After adjusting for age, race, menopause status, scan position and specific blood analysis laboratory, VAT area at L4–L5 had lower correlations with most metabolic risk factors including serum/plasma TG, HDL, glucose, insulin and blood pressure than VAT volume in both men and women. The VAT areas 10 and 15 cm above L4–L5 in men had higher or equal correlations with health risk measures than VAT volume. In women, the VAT area 5 cm above or below L4–L5 and total VAT volume had similar correlations with health risk measures.
An appropriately selected single slice VAT area is an equally reliable phenotypic marker of obesity-related health risk as total VAT volume. However, in both men and women the VAT slice area at the traditional L4–L5 level is not the best marker of obesity-related health risk.
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This work was supported by National Institutes of Health Grants NIDDK R21 DK66360-01, R01 DK40414, R01 DK42618, R01 DK57508, 1 and P30 DK26687; NHLBI RO1 53359 and RO1 74814; R29-AG14715, F32-AG05679, M01 RR00645, NO1HC48047-UAB and N01-HC-48050; and grants to General Clinical Research Centers (M01-RR00036, M01-RR00051, M01-RR00052, M01-RR00054, M01-RR00636 and M01-RR00865).
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Shen, W., Punyanitya, M., Chen, J. et al. Visceral adipose tissue: relationships between single slice areas at different locations and obesity-related health risks. Int J Obes 31, 763–769 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ijo.0803474
- metabolic syndrome
- magnetic resonance imaging
- computed tomography
- body composition
- abdominal obesity
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