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Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2004 Nov;287(5):E842-7. Epub 2004 Jul 6.

Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry lean soft tissue hydration: independent contributions of intra- and extracellular water.

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St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New Youk, NY 10025, USA.


Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) provides a measure of lean soft tissue (LST). LST hydration, often assumed to be constant, is relevant to several aspects of DEXA body composition estimates. The aims of this study were to develop a theoretical model of LST total body water (TBW) content and to examine hydration effects with empirically derived model coefficients and then to experimentally test the model's prediction that, in healthy adults, LST hydration is not constant but varies as a function of extra- and intracellular water distribution (E/I). The initial phase involved TBW/LST model development and application with empirically derived model coefficients. Model predictions were then tested in a cross-sectional study of 215 healthy adults. LST was measured by DEXA, extracellular water (ECW) by NaBr dilution, intracellular water (ICW) by whole body (40)K counting, and TBW by (2)H(2)O dilution. TBW estimates, calculated as ECW + ICW, were highly correlated with (r = 0.97, SEE = 2.1 kg, P < 0.001) and showed no significant bias compared with TBW measured by (2)H(2)O. Model-predicted TBW/LST was almost identical to experimentally derived values (means +/- SD) in the total group (0.767 vs. 0.764 +/- 0.028). LST hydration was significantly correlated with E/I (total group, r = 0.30, SEE = 0.027, P < 0.001). Although E/I increased with age (men, r = 0.48; women, r = 0.37; both P < 0.001), the association between TBW/LST and age was nonsignificant. Hydration of the DEXA-derived LST compartment is thus not constant but varies predictably with ECW and ICW distribution. This observation has implications for the accuracy of body fat measurements by DEXA and the use of TBW as a means of checking DEXA system calibration.

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