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Obesity (Silver Spring). 2009 May;17(5):1062-9. doi: 10.1038/oby.2008.627. Epub 2009 Jan 22.

Inflammation and race and gender differences in computerized tomography-measured adipose depots.

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Laboratory of Epidemiology, Demography, and Biometry, National Institute on Aging, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.


A growing body of evidence has consistently shown a correlation between obesity and chronic subclinical inflammation. It is unclear whether the size of specific adipose depots is more closely associated with concentrations of inflammatory markers than overall adiposity. This study investigated the relationship between inflammatory markers and computerized tomography-derived abdominal visceral and subcutaneous fat and thigh intermuscular and subcutaneous fat in older white and black adults. Data were from 2,651 black and white men and women aged 70-79 years participating in the Health, Aging, and Body Composition (Health ABC) study. Inflammatory markers, interleukin-6 (IL-6), C-reactive protein (CRP), and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) were obtained from serum samples. Abdominal visceral and subcutaneous fat and thigh intermuscular and subcutaneous fat were quantified on computerized tomography images. Linear regression analysis was used to evaluate the cross-sectional relationship between specific adipose depots and inflammatory markers in four race/gender groups. As expected, blacks have less visceral fat than whites and women less visceral fat than men. However, abdominal visceral adiposity was most consistently associated with significantly higher IL-6 and CRP concentrations in all race/gender groups (P < 0.05), even after controlling for general adiposity. Thigh intermuscular fat had an inconsistent but significant association with inflammation, and there was a trend toward lower inflammatory marker concentration with increasing thigh subcutaneous fat in white and black women. Despite the previously established differences in abdominal fat distribution across gender and race, visceral fat remained a significant predictor of inflammatory marker concentration across all four subgroups examined.

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