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Thorax. 2017 Dec;72(12):1113-1120. doi: 10.1136/thoraxjnl-2016-209125. Epub 2017 Jul 20.

Rapid decline in lung function is temporally associated with greater metabolically active adiposity in a longitudinal study of healthy adults.

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Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA.
Office of Research, Clinical Translational Science Center, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA.
Division of Preventive Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, USA.
University of Minnesota, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.
Department of Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Department of Radiology and Radiological Sciences, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, USA.
Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.



Adiposity is associated with low lung function, but the longitudinal relationship between lung function and adiposity is inadequately studied.


To examine the bidirectional longitudinal associations between rapid decline in lung function and adiposity phenotypes in healthy adults.


This secondary analysis used a 25-year longitudinal dataset from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study that enrolled 5115 participants.


In the first analysis, metabolic syndrome at or before CARDIA year (Y) 10 (Y10) was the predictor, and subsequent rapid decline in forced vital capacity (FVC) or forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) between Y10 and Y20 was the outcome. In the second analysis, rapid decline was the predictor, and incident metabolic syndrome at Y20 and/or Y25 was the outcome. In the third analysis, rapid decline was the predictor, and subsequent CT-assessed regional fat depots at Y25 were the outcome.


Metabolic syndrome at or before Y10 is temporally associated with rapid decline in FVC between Y10 and Y20 (adjusted p=0.04), but this association was explained by body mass index (BMI) at Y10. Rapid decline in FVC or FEV1 is temporally associated with greater incident metabolic syndrome at Y20 and/or Y25 (adjusted OR 2.10 (1.69, 2.61); p<0.001, and 1.56 (1.26, 1.94); p<0.001, respectively) and greater CT-assessed intrathoracic visceral adiposity at Y25 (adjusted standardised β 0.09; p<0.001 for both analyses). These associations were not explained by BMI levels prior to the outcome measurement.


Healthy adults with rapid decline in lung function are at risk for developing metabolic syndrome and for disproportionate accumulation of intrathoracic visceral fat. Metabolic abnormalities may be an early extrapulmonary manifestation of lung impairment that may be preventable by improving lung health.


Body mass index; metabolic syndrome; visceral fat

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