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Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2013 May;33(5):1077-84. doi: 10.1161/ATVBAHA.112.300829. Epub 2013 Mar 7.

Epicardial adipose tissue volume and adipocytokine imbalance are strongly linked to human coronary atherosclerosis.

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  • 1Department of Cardio-Diabetes Medicine, The University of Tokushima Graduate School of Health Biosciences, 3-18-15 Kuramoto, Tokushima 770-8503, Japan.



The impact of epicardial adipose tissue (EAT) over abdominal or overall adiposity on coronary artery disease (CAD) is currently unknown. We compared the association among EAT volume (EATV), cytokine/adipocytokine profiles in EAT and subcutaneous fat, and atherogenic CAD.


Paired samples were obtained from EAT and subcutaneous adipose tissue during elective cardiac surgery for CAD (n=50) or non-CAD (n=50). EATV was the sum of cross-sectional EAT areas, and visceral and subcutaneous fat areas were determined at the umbilicus level on computed tomography scans. CD68(+), CD11c(+), and CD206(+) cells were counted using immunohistochemical staining. Cytokine/adipocytokine expression was evaluated using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. Multivariate analysis indicated that male sex, age, diabetes mellitus, high triglycerides, and low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and EATV index (EATV/body surface area, cm(3)/m(2)) were significant CAD predictors (corrected R(2)=0.401; P<0.001); visceral fat area, hypertension, smoking, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (140 mg/dL [3.63 mmol/L]) or statin use were not predictors. The EATV index positively correlated with the CD68(+) and CD11c(+) cell numbers and nucleotide-binding domain, leucine-rich-containing family, pyrin domain-containing-3 (NLRP3), interleukin-1β, and interleukin-1R expression; and negatively correlated with adiponectin expression in EAT. A multivariate analysis model, including CD68(+) cells and interleukin-1β, and adiponectin expression in EAT strongly predicted CAD (corrected R(2)=0.756; P<0.001).


EATV and macrophage and cytokine/adipocytokine signals in EAT strongly correlated with CAD. Our findings suggest that EATV and adipocytokine imbalance are strongly linked to human coronary atherosclerosis.

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