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Eur J Radiol. 2012 Apr;81(4):749-56. doi: 10.1016/j.ejrad.2011.01.035. Epub 2011 Feb 21.

Pericardial and thoracic peri-aortic adipose tissues contribute to systemic inflammation and calcified coronary atherosclerosis independent of body fat composition, anthropometric measures and traditional cardiovascular risks.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, Mackay Memorial Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan.



Coronary atherosclerosis has traditionally been proposed to be associated with several cardiovascular risk factors and anthropometric measures. However, clinical data regarding the independent value of visceral adipose tissue in addition to such traditional predictors remains obscure.


We subsequently studied 719 subjects (age: 48.1±8.3 years, 25% females) who underwent multidetector computed tomography (MDCT) for coronary calcium score (CCS) quantification. Baseline demographic data and anthropometric measures were taken with simultaneous body fat composition estimated. Visceral adipose tissue of pericardial and thoracic peri-aortic fat was quantified by MDCT using TeraRecon Aquarius workstation (San Mateo, CA). Traditional cardiovascular risk stratification was calculated by metabolic (NCEP ATP III) and Framingham (FRS) scores and high-sensitivity CRP (Hs-CRP) was taken to represent systemic inflammation. The independent value of visceral adipose tissue to systemic inflammation and CCS was assessed by utilizing multivariable regression analysis.


Of all subjects enrolled in this study, the mean values for pericardial and peri-aortic adipose tissue were 74.23±27.51 and 7.23±3.69ml, respectively. Higher visceral fat quartile groups were associated with graded increase of risks for cardiovascular diseases. Both adipose burdens strongly correlated with anthropometric measures including waist circumference, body weight and body mass index (all p<0.001). In addition, both visceral amount correlates well with ATP and FRS scores, all lipid profiles and systemic inflammation marker in terms of Hs-CRP (all p<0.001). After adjustment for baseline variables, both visceral fat were independently related to Hs-CRP levels (all p<0.05), but only pericardial fat exerted independent role in coronary calcium deposit.


Both visceral adipose tissues strongly correlated with systemic inflammation beyond traditional cardiovascular risks and anthropometric measures, though only pericardial fat exerted independent role in coronary calcium deposit. Our data suggested that visceral adipose tissue may thus contribute to systemic inflammation and play an independent role in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis.

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