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Relation between visceral fat and coronary artery disease evaluated by multidetector computed tomography

Open AccessPublished:November 18, 2009DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2009.10.023

      Abstract

      Visceral abdominal fat has been associated to cardiovascular risk factors and coronary artery disease (CAD). Computed tomography (CT) coronary angiography is an emerging technology allowing detection of both obstructive and nonobstructive CAD adding information to clinical risk stratification. The aim of this study was to evaluate the association between CAD and adiposity measurements assessed clinically and by CT. We prospectively evaluated 125 consecutive subjects (57% men, age 56.0 ± 12 years) referred to perform CT angiography. Clinical and laboratory variables were determined and CT angiography and abdominal CT were performed in a 64-slice scanner. CAD was defined as any plaque calcified or not detected by CT angiography. Visceral and subcutaneous adiposity areas were determined at different intervertebral levels. CT angiography detected CAD in 70 (56%) subjects, and no association was found with usual anthropometric adiposity measurements (waist and hip circumferences and body mass index). Otherwise, CT visceral fat areas (VFA) were significantly related to CAD. VFA T12-L1 values ≥145 cm2 had an odds ratio of 2.85 (95% CI 1.30–6.26) and VFA L4-L5 ≥150 cm2 had a 2.87-fold (95% CI 1.31–6.30) CAD risk. The multivariate analysis determined age and VFA T12-L1 as the only independent variables associated to CAD. Visceral fat assessed by CT is an independent marker of CAD determined by CT angiography.

      Keywords

      1. Introduction

      Obesity, defined by a body mass index of at least 30 kg/m2, is associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease and cardiac mortality [
      • Calle E.E.
      • Thun M.J.
      • Petrelli J.M.
      • Rodriguez C.
      • Heath Jr., C.W.
      Body-mass index and mortality in a prospective cohort of U.S. adults.
      ,
      • Kannel W.B.
      • Wilson P.W.
      • Nam B.H.
      • D’Agostino R.B.
      Risk stratification of obesity as a coronary risk factor.
      ,
      • Peeters A.
      • Barendregt J.J.
      • Willekens F.
      • et al.
      Obesity in adulthood and its consequences for life expectancy: a life-table analysis.
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      • Wilson P.W.
      • D’Agostino R.B.
      • Sullivan L.
      • Parise H.
      • Kannel W.B.
      Overweight and obesity as determinants of cardiovascular risk: the Framingham experience.
      ,
      • Yusuf S.
      • Hawken S.
      • Ounpuu S.
      • et al.
      Obesity and the risk of myocardial infarction in 27,000 participants from 52 countries: a case-control study.
      ]. Most studies designed to assess the health risk of body fat distribution have used anthropometric adiposity measurements such as waist circumference or waist-to-hip ratio to estimate the amount of abdominal adipose tissue. Both of these measurements are independently related to coronary heart disease (CHD), and it is likely that this association is due to an enlargement of visceral fat stores [
      • Yusuf S.
      • Hawken S.
      • Ounpuu S.
      • et al.
      Obesity and the risk of myocardial infarction in 27,000 participants from 52 countries: a case-control study.
      ,
      • Balkau B.
      • Deanfield J.E.
      • Despres J.P.
      • et al.
      International Day for the Evaluation of Abdominal Obesity (IDEA): a study of waist circumference, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes mellitus in 168,000 primary care patients in 63 countries.
      ,
      • Canoy D.
      • Boekholdt S.M.
      • Wareham N.
      • et al.
      Body fat distribution and risk of coronary heart disease in men and women in the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition in Norfolk cohort: a population-based prospective study.
      ]. In fact, the association between risk factors for CHD and visceral fat, measured directly with computed tomography (CT), is stronger than the associations observed with waist circumference or waist-to-hip ratio [
      • Fox C.S.
      • Massaro J.M.
      • Hoffmann U.
      • et al.
      Abdominal visceral and subcutaneous adipose tissue compartments: association with metabolic risk factors in the Framingham Heart Study.
      ,
      • Nicklas B.J.
      • Penninx B.W.
      • Ryan A.S.
      • et al.
      Visceral adipose tissue cutoffs associated with metabolic risk factors for coronary heart disease in women.
      ].
      The visceral adipose tissue may be a unique pathogenic fat depot, in part because it secretes vasoactive substances and other various bioactive adipocytokines [
      • Bacha F.
      • Saad R.
      • Gungor N.
      • Arslanian S.A.
      Adiponectin in youth: relationship to visceral adiposity, insulin sensitivity, and beta-cell function.
      ,
      • Kanaya A.M.
      • Harris T.
      • Goodpaster B.H.
      • Tylavsky F.
      • Cummings S.R.
      Adipocytokines attenuate the association between visceral adiposity and diabetes in older adults.
      ,
      • Nielsen S.
      • Guo Z.
      • Johnson C.M.
      • Hensrud D.D.
      • Jensen M.D.
      Splanchnic lipolysis in human obesity.
      ,
      • Wajchenberg B.L.
      Subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissue: their relation to the metabolic syndrome.
      ]. Adipocytokines levels are increased in obesity-related diseases such as type 2 Diabetes, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular diseases [
      • Hotamisligil G.S.
      • Shargill N.S.
      • Spiegelman B.M.
      Adipose expression of tumor necrosis factor-alpha: direct role in obesity-linked insulin resistance.
      ,
      • Matsuzawa Y.
      Adiponectin: identification, physiology and clinical relevance in metabolic and vascular disease.
      ,
      • Steppan C.M.
      • Bailey S.T.
      • Bhat S.
      • et al.
      The hormone resistin links obesity to diabetes.
      ]. A number of prospective and cross-sectional studies have shown a higher risk of diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance, insulin resistance, hypertension, dyslipidemia, metabolic syndrome in association with a greater visceral adiposity [
      • Kanaya A.M.
      • Harris T.
      • Goodpaster B.H.
      • Tylavsky F.
      • Cummings S.R.
      Adipocytokines attenuate the association between visceral adiposity and diabetes in older adults.
      ,
      • Goodpaster B.H.
      • Krishnaswami S.
      • Resnick H.
      • et al.
      Association between regional adipose tissue distribution and both type 2 diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance in elderly men and women.
      ,
      • Goodpaster B.H.
      • Krishnaswami S.
      • Harris T.B.
      • et al.
      Obesity, regional body fat distribution, and the metabolic syndrome in older men and women.
      ,
      • Hayashi T.
      • Boyko E.J.
      • Leonetti D.L.
      • et al.
      Visceral adiposity is an independent predictor of incident hypertension in Japanese Americans.
      ,
      • Kobayashi H.
      • Nakamura T.
      • Miyaoka K.
      • et al.
      Visceral fat accumulation contributes to insulin resistance, small-sized low-density lipoprotein, and progression of coronary artery disease in middle-aged non-obese Japanese men.
      ]. In addition to visceral fat depots, hepatic steatosis has also been associated with metabolic risk [
      • Kotronen A.
      • Yki-Jarvinen H.
      Fatty liver: a novel component of the metabolic syndrome.
      ]. Although its pathogenesis remains unclear, it is suggested that sustained liver exposure to an increased flux of free fatty acids from visceral adipose tissue would lead to an increase in lipid deposition [
      • Fong D.G.
      • Nehra V.
      • Lindor K.D.
      • Buchman A.L.
      Metabolic and nutritional considerations in nonalcoholic fatty liver.
      ]. The fatty liver is resistant to insulin action to suppress hepatic glucose production, which results in hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia. Non-invasive methods like CT have been widely used in both research and clinical practice to assess hepatic fat [
      • Kotronen A.
      • Yki-Jarvinen H.
      Fatty liver: a novel component of the metabolic syndrome.
      ,
      • Nguyen-Duy T.B.
      • Nichaman M.Z.
      • Church T.S.
      • Blair S.N.
      • Ross R.
      Visceral fat and liver fat are independent predictors of metabolic risk factors in men.
      ].
      Besides the association between visceral adipose depots and CHD risk factors, studies reported relations of greater abdominal adiposity and subclinical atherosclerosis, defined as coronary artery calcification (CAC) [
      • Ohashi N.
      • Yamamoto H.
      • Horiguchi J.
      • et al.
      Visceral fat accumulation as a predictor of coronary artery calcium as assessed by multislice computed tomography in Japanese patients.
      ]. Recently multidetector CT angiography has taken a leading role in early detection of coronary artery disease (CAD) since it allows both vessel luminal evaluation and plaque detection [
      • Leber A.W.
      • Knez A.
      • von Z.F.
      • et al.
      Quantification of obstructive and nonobstructive coronary lesions by 64-slice computed tomography: a comparative study with quantitative coronary angiography and intravascular ultrasound.
      ]. Studies show that plaque identification by cardiac CT might have prognostic information in addition to clinical risk stratification [
      • Min J.K.
      • Shaw L.J.
      • Devereux R.B.
      • et al.
      Prognostic value of multidetector coronary computed tomographic angiography for prediction of all-cause mortality.
      ,
      • Nasir K.
      • Shaw L.J.
      • Liu S.T.
      • et al.
      Ethnic differences in the prognostic value of coronary artery calcification for all-cause mortality.
      ,
      • Ostrom M.P.
      • Gopal A.
      • Ahmadi N.
      • et al.
      Mortality incidence and the severity of coronary atherosclerosis assessed by computed tomography angiography.
      ,
      • Pundziute G.
      • Schuijf J.D.
      • Jukema J.W.
      • et al.
      Prognostic value of multislice computed tomography coronary angiography in patients with known or suspected coronary artery disease.
      ].
      The aim of this study was to investigate whether CT adiposity measurements (e.g. visceral adipose tissue, subcutaneous adipose tissue and hepatic fat) are associated with CAD assessed by cardiac CT. Furthermore, to assess whether these adiposity measurement by CT are better related to CAD than traditional adiposity anthropometric measurements.

      2. Methods

      2.1 Study population

      The participants of this study were referred to perform a CT coronary angiography at the Heart Institute (InCor) – University of São Paulo Medical School Hospital, in Sao Paulo, Brazil by their assistant physicians to investigate the presence of CAD. Subjects with a previous history of myocardial infarction, percutaneous or surgical myocardial revascularization or that presented a diagnosis of coronary stenosis by a previously performed invasive or non-invasive coronary angiography were excluded. One hundred and twenty-five consecutive subjects were studied cross-sectionally from July 2007 and February 2008. Sixty individuals were asymptomatic (48%), thirty-two were evaluating thoracic pain and thirty-three individuals were performing the CT angiography after a positive or inconclusive non-invasive stress testing. This study was approved by the local ethics review board and all participants signed an informed consent.

      2.2 CHD risk factors assessment and anthropometric measurements

      All participants were asked to fast for 12 h before the clinical interview and examination. Risk factors for CHD were assessed during a medical interview and blood pressure was measured. The body mass index in kg/m2 was calculated by the formula: weight/(height)2. Waist girth was measured laterally at the midway between the iliac crest and the lowest lateral portion of the rib cage. The hip girth was measured in the maximum circumference of the buttocks and the waist-to-hip ratio was then calculated. The measurements described above were performed according to international guidelines [
      • National Institutes of Health
      Clinical guidelines on the identification, evaluation, and treatment of overweight and obesity in adults—the evidence report.
      ,
      • Chobanian A.V.
      • Bakris G.L.
      • Black H.R.
      • et al.
      The Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure: the JNC 7 report.
      ].
      Blood samples were drawn from an antecubital vein. Plasma concentrations of total, high-density lipoprotein and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides and glucose were measured by standard enzymatic methods in an automated system.
      The presence of the metabolic syndrome was defined by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) criteria that considered obligatory the presence of increased abdominal adiposity for the diagnosis [
      • Zimmet P.
      • Magliano D.
      • Matsuzawa Y.
      • Alberti G.
      • Shaw J.
      The metabolic syndrome: a global public health problem and a new definition.
      ], e.g. >80 cm and 94 cm for women and men, respectively. The 10-year hard CHD risk was calculated by Framingham risk score [
      • D’Agostino Sr., R.B.
      • Vasan R.S.
      • Pencina M.J.
      • et al.
      General cardiovascular risk profile for use in primary care: the Framingham Heart Study.
      ].

      2.3 CT adiposity measurements

      Axial images of the abdominal region were obtained using a 64 multidetector-row CT scanner (Aquilion, Toshiba Medical Systems, Otawara, Japan). The subjects were examined in a supine position with their arms stretched above their heads. CT scans were taken with 10 mm thickness, 120 kV and 200 mA at the level of L4-L5 to determine the visceral (VFA L4-L5) and subcutaneous abdominal fat areas (SFA L4-L5). These areas were manually determined using an attenuation range of −30 to −190 Hounsfield units that correspond to fat structures (Fig. 1) [
      • Wajchenberg B.L.
      Subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissue: their relation to the metabolic syndrome.
      ,
      • Yoshizumi T.
      • Nakamura T.
      • Yamane M.
      • et al.
      Abdominal fat: standardized technique for measurement at CT.
      ]. To evaluate upper abdomen and liver fat infiltration, the same imaging protocol was used at the level of T12-L1 (VFA T12-L1). At this level, besides the area measurement, a region of interest with 1.0 cm × 1.0 cm was placed in the liver and the spleen to determine the attenuation ratio between these organs (Fig. 1) [
      • Nguyen-Duy T.B.
      • Nichaman M.Z.
      • Church T.S.
      • Blair S.N.
      • Ross R.
      Visceral fat and liver fat are independent predictors of metabolic risk factors in men.
      ]. Due to anatomical variations precluding clear spleen identification the liver–spleen attenuation ratio (LSAR) was determined in 111 of the 125 patients.
      Figure thumbnail gr1
      Fig. 1Computed tomography in L4-L5 (A) and T12-L1 (B) intervertebral levels to assess visceral adiposity. (A) The visceral fat area (VFA) (1), the muscular and VFA summed (2) and the total fat areas in mm2 (3) are manually determined at L4-L5 level. The subcutaneous fat area is determined subtracting the total fat area from the muscular summed VFA. These measurements represent the umbilicus topography. (B) The VFA (1) is manually determined at T12-L1 level and two regions of interest are located at the liver (2) and at the spleen (3) to determine the attenuation ratio between them. These measurements represent the VFA in the liver topography.

      2.4 CT coronary evaluation

      Coronary calcifications in the epicardial coronary arteries were determined with a prospective electrocardiographic gating with 400-ms gantry rotation, 120-kV tube voltage, and 300-mA tube current. CAC was measured by using the Agatston method and a total CAC score was determined from the sum of individual scores of the major epicardial coronary arteries [
      • Ostrom M.P.
      • Gopal A.
      • Ahmadi N.
      • et al.
      Mortality incidence and the severity of coronary atherosclerosis assessed by computed tomography angiography.
      ,
      • Agatston A.S.
      • Janowitz W.R.
      • Hildner F.J.
      • et al.
      Quantification of coronary artery calcium using ultrafast computed tomography.
      ].
      Computed tomographic coronary angiography was acquired using 64 × 0.5 mm collimation, 400 ms gantry rotation, 300–500 mA with ECG trigger and 120 kV tube voltage. Contrast agent (80–110 ml; 300 mg iodine/ml) was injected intravenously (5 ml/s). Metoprolol (5–15 mg) was used in patients whenever heart rate was above 70 bpm prior to contrast infusion. These parameters are similar to a previously described protocol [
      • Miller J.M.
      • Rochitte C.E.
      • Dewey M.
      • et al.
      Diagnostic performance of coronary angiography by 64-row CT.
      ]. The mean effective doses reported for this protocol were 14 mSv for men and 15 mSv for women.
      Images were reconstructed at several phases of the cardiac cycle and sent to 2 blinded and independent observers, to evaluate both coronary calcium scans and the CT coronary angiography data sets using axial and multiplanar reformatted images. Data sets were evaluated, using a coronary modified model [
      • Austen W.G.
      • Edwards J.E.
      • Frye R.L.
      • et al.
      A reporting system on patients evaluated for coronary artery disease. Report of the Ad Hoc Committee for Grading of Coronary Artery Disease, Council on Cardiovascular Surgery, American Heart Association.
      ], for the presence of atherosclerotic plaque (Fig. 2). CAD was defined by the visual assessment of coronary plaques. Plaques were defined as any vessel wall bulging above 1 mm, with low CT attenuation (non-calcified plaque), high and low attenuation (mixed plaque) and high CT attenuation (calcified plaque), as previously shown [
      • Sun J.
      • Zhang Z.
      • Lu B.
      • et al.
      Identification and quantification of coronary atherosclerotic plaques: a comparison of 64-MDCT and intravascular ultrasound.
      ,
      • Petranovic M.
      • Soni A.
      • Bezzera H.
      • et al.
      Assessment of nonstenotic coronary lesions by 64 slice multidetector computed tomography in comparison to intravascular ultrasound: evaluation of nonculprit coronary lesions.
      ]. Clearly identified coronary plaques were classified according their stenosis grade in two groups: 1 to 49% stenosis and ≥50% stenosis. In case of non-agreement between the observers data was analyzed by a third investigator. The Agatston score and the CT angiographies were evaluated with commercially available software (Vitrea2, Vital Images, Plymouth, USA).
      Figure thumbnail gr2
      Fig. 2Left main and left anterior descendent coronary arteries of two participants representing: (A) normal coronary computed tomography angiography (CTA) and (B) non-calcified and calcified coronary plaques identified by CTA.
      In this study, the presence of CAD was defined by visual assessment of any plaque calcified or not, obstructive or not detected by the CT angiography. When a plaque was identified, we considered significant stenosis as the presence of luminal narrowing ≥50%.

      2.5 Statistical analysis

      Continuous variables are expressed as mean, median, standard deviation and range, when applicable. Categorical variables were analyzed as relative and absolute frequencies. Data normality was calculated by the Kolmogorov–Smirnov test. Student t and Mann–Whitney tests were used to compare parametric and non-parametric data, respectively. Homogeneity between proportions was tested with Chi-square or Fisher's exact test when necessary. The univariate correlation between studied variables was calculated by the test of Spearman. The association of CAC and CAD with clinical and CT adiposity parameters was performed by logistic regression model and stepwise selection of variables. In order to further evaluate the specific contribution of each individual CT measurements of adiposity with CAD, multivariate models were built considering traditional risk factors, clinical measurements of adiposity and each one of these CT variables independently. A cutoff threshold was obtained by univariate analysis with receiver operating characteristic curves and efficiency indexes (sensitivity, specificity and accuracy). Statistical tests were performed using the SAS software (Cary, NC, USA).

      3. Results

      3.1 Clinical and CT angiography characteristics of the studied population

      A total of 125 participants (57% men), from 24 to 83 year-old, mean age 56.0 ± 12 years were included in these analyses. Normal coronaries on CT angiography were found in 55 patients (44%) and CAD was found in 70 patients (56%). There was a good interobserver agreement for plaque identification (kappa index = 0.86, p < 0.001). A total of 1862 vessel segments were evaluated and 50 (2.7%) were classified as ineligible due to imaging artifacts. Among those with CAD, 22 patients (17.6%) presented ≥50% luminal narrowing and 48 patients (38.4%) presented non-significant obstructions. CAC was present in 65 subjects (52%) and the median calcium score (ranges) was 3.0 (0–12,033). Among patients with CAD, 7.1% (n = 5) showed a calcium score of zero.
      Table 1 shows the clinical characteristics of subjects presenting or not CAD. When compared to normal CT angiography subjects, those with CAD were older (p < 0.001), presented higher fasting blood glucose levels (p = 0.033), greater prevalence of dyslipidemia (p = 0.014), metabolic syndrome (p = 0.002), lipid-lowering therapy use (p = 0.035), and a greater 10-year calculated hard CHD risk (p = 0.002).
      Table 1Baseline characteristics of the 125 participants according to CAD status.
      Normal angiography
      Normal angiography and CAD (coronary artery disease) defined by computed tomography angiography.
      (n = 55)
      CAD
      Normal angiography and CAD (coronary artery disease) defined by computed tomography angiography.
      (n = 70)
      p value
      Age (years)53 ± 10.760 ± 12<0.001
      Male gender, n (%)29 (53)42 (60)0.415
      Hypertension, n (%)29 (53)47 (67)0.101
      Diabetes mellitus, n (%)5 (9)12 (17)0.172
      Dyslipidemia, n (%)32 (58)55 (76)0.014
      Family history of early CHD, n (%)10 (18)22 (31)0.092
      Current smoking n (%)4 (7)9 (13)0.310
      Sedentarism n (%)49 (89)53 (76)0.055
      Systolic blood pressure (mmHg)133 ± 22137 ± 210.290
      Diastolic blood pressure (mmHg)78 ± 1479 ± 150.849
      Total cholesterol (mg/dl)216 ± 82213 ± 620.370
      HDL cholesterol (mg/dl)45 ± 1047 ± 110.535
      LDL cholesterol (mg/dl)141 ± 77135 ± 560.605
      Triglycerides (mg/dl)146 ± 133163 ± 1120.138
      Fasting blood glucose (mg/dl)95 ± 10107 ± 370.033
      Creatinine (mg/dl)0.90 ± 0.170.95 ± 0.200.304
      Metabolic syndrome n (%)28 (50)54 (81)0.002
      10-year CHD risk (%)5 ± 69 ± 70.002
      Antihypertensive agents n (%)30 (56)43 (61)0.438
      Hypoglicemic agents n (%)5 (9)11 (16)0.271
      Lipid-lowering agents n (%)21 (38)40 (57)0.035
      All data are presented as number of subjects (%) or mean ± SD.
      CHD = coronary heart disease; HDL = high-density lipoprotein; LDL = low-density lipoprotein.
      a Normal angiography and CAD (coronary artery disease) defined by computed tomography angiography.

      3.2 Clinical and CT adiposity measurements in subjects presenting CAD or CAC

      Clinical and CT measurements of adiposity in subjects presenting or not CAD and CAC are shown in Table 2. No differences were found in clinical adiposity measurements between the groups. In general there was a high prevalence of excess adiposity in both groups. Increased BMI defined as ≥25 kg/m2 was found respectively in 81% and 73% of those presenting or not CAD (p = 0.17). An increased abdominal adiposity defined as waist measurements >80 cm for women and >94 cm for men were found in 86% and 78% of those with and without CAD, respectively (p = 0.57). On the other hand, CAD subjects had higher values of VFA L4-L5 (p = 0.01), VFA T12-L1 (p < 0.05) and LSAR (p < 0.05). Similarly those presenting CAC had significantly higher VFA L4-L5 (p < 0.01), VFA T12-L1 and lower LSAR than those without CAC (p < 0.05).
      Table 2Univariate association of anthropometric and CT adiposity measurements according to CAD and CAC by CT angiography.
      CAD by CT angiographyCAC by the Agatston score
      Normal angiography (n = 55)CAD (n = 70)No CAC (n = 60)CAC present (n = 65)
      Weight (kg)79.5 ± 1578 ± 1678.8 ± 14.878.8 ± 15.8
      Body mass index (kg/m2)28.8 ± 429.08 ± 4.728.6 ± 4.829.24 ± 4.8
      Waist (cm)97 ± 11.199 ± 1296.8 ± 10.899.7 ± 12.5
      Hip (cm)98.5 ± 11.1100.5 ± 11.398.3 ± 10.9100.6 ± 11.4
      Waist-to-hip ratio0.99 ± 0.070.99 ± 0.080.99 ± 0.070.99 ± 0.08
      CT measurements
       VFA L4-L5 (cm2)147 ± 54.34183 ± 83.65
      p<0.01.
      147.9 ± 52.9185.1 ± 86.2
      p<0.01.
       SFA L4-L5 (cm2)279 ± 111.0274 ± 101.6275.3 ± 109.4277.1 ± 02.5
       VFA T12-L1 (cm2)128 ± 76.07169 ± 98.17
      p<0.05.
      130 ± 76.2170.9 ± 99.5
      p<0.05.
       LSAR
      LSAR was measured in 111 subjects, 49 with normal angiography and 62 with CAD.
      1.17 ± 0.421.01 ± 0.34
      p<0.05.
      1.15 ± 0.41.01 ± 0.34
      p<0.05.
      VFA L4-L5 = visceral fat area at the L4-L5 intervertebral level; SFA L4-L5 = subcutaneous fat area at the L4-L5 intervertebral level; VFA T12-L1 = visceral fat area at the T12-L1 intervertebral level; LSAR = liver/spleen attenuation ratio.
      a LSAR was measured in 111 subjects, 49 with normal angiography and 62 with CAD.
      * p < 0.05.
      ** p < 0.01.
      Table 3 shows the univariate correlation coefficients between clinical and CT adiposity measurements. Waist circumference was better correlated with CT measurements than body mass index, hip and hip/waist ratio. The hip circumference showed the best correlation with SFA L4-L5.
      Table 3Pearson correlation coefficients between anthropometric and CT adiposity measurements.
      VFA L4-L5SFA L4-L5VFA T12-L1LSAR
      LSAR measured in 111 subjects.
      Body mass index0.60
      p<0.001.
      0.73
      p<0.001.
      0.47
      p<0.001.
      −0.21
      p<0.05.
      Waist0.74
      p<0.001.
      0.63
      p<0.001.
      0.66
      p<0.001.
      −0.28
      p<0.05.
      Hip0.48
      p<0.001.
      0.79
      p<0.001.
      0.32
      p<0.001.
      −0.07
      Waist-to-hip ratio0.43
      p<0.001.
      −0.130.57
      p<0.001.
      −0.32
      p<0.001.
      a LSAR measured in 111 subjects.
      * p < 0.05.
      ** p < 0.001.
      Visceral fat measurements assessed by CT were related to each other. VFA L4-L5 was correlated to both VFA T12-L1 (r = 0.66, p = 0.001) and to LSAR (r = −0.45, p = 0.001). The VFA T12-L1 and LSAR were also inversely correlated (r = −0.39, p = 0.001).

      3.3 Relation of individual adiposity measurements with CAD

      No correlations were found in both univariate and multivariate analysis between anthropometric adiposity measurements and CAD. The mean VFA T12-L1 and VFA L4-L5 were respectively 151.2 ± 91 cm2 and 167.2 ± 74.2 cm2. Table 4 show the multivariate adjusted relation between CT adiposity measurements and the presence of CAD. After adjustment for clinical and laboratory risk factors there was a significant association between VFA T12-L1, LSAR and VFA L4-L5 with CAD. Defining a threshold of 145 cm2 to the VFA T12-L1, a 2.85-fold (95% CI 1.30–6.26) CAD risk was found. This threshold awards a sensitivity, specificity and accuracy of 72.9%, 56.4% and 65.6%, respectively. A threshold of 1.1 to LSAR confers and odds ratio of 3.0 (95% CI 1.31–6.90) for the presence of CAD. This cutoff confers a sensitivity, specificity and accuracy of 74.2%, 55.1% and 65.8%, respectively. Patients with VFA L4-L5 ≥150 cm2 had a 2.87-fold (95% CI 1.31–6.30) increased CAD risk compared to those with lower values after adjustment for the other risk factors and the anthropometric measures. The threshold of 150 cm2 was determined with sensitivity, specificity and accuracy of 68.6%, 60% and 64.8%, respectively. After adjustment for clinical, laboratory and CT measurements of adiposity, age OR 1.06 (95% CI 1.02–1.11) and VFA T12-L1 were independent predictors of the presence of CAD detected by CT angiography (Table 4).
      Table 4Multivariate association between CT adiposity measurements and CAD.
      OR (95% CI) per 1 unit increase
      Model 1
       VFA T12-L11.007 (1.002–1.012)
       LSAR6.28 (1.54–25.64)
       VFA L4-L51.008 (1.002–1.015)
      Model 2
       VFA T12-L11.007 (1.002–1.013)
       LSAR
       VFA L4-L5
      Model 1: adjusted for age, risk factors an laboratory measurements.
      Model 2: model 1+ adjusted for CT adiposity measurements.

      3.4 Multivariate determinants of CAC

      After adjustment for other parameters a calcium score > zero was related to family history of early CHD, to the 10-year CHD risk calculated by Framingham risk score and to the presence of the metabolic syndrome, odds ratios of 3.67 (1.42–9.45), 1.09 (1.02–1.16) and 3.06 (1.35–6.95), respectively, no association persisted between CAC and CT adiposity measurements.

      4. Discussion

      To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study evaluating the relation between visceral adiposity measurements and CAD detected by CT angiography. The upper abdominal fat (VFA T12-L1) was independently related to coronary atherosclerosis after adjustment for cardiovascular risk variables. The VFA T12-L1 and age had a better performance than anthropometric adiposity measurements and classical risk factors for CAD evaluation.
      The early detection of subjects at an increased cardiovascular event risk is important to implement preventive measures. In clinical practice, adiposity estimated by usual anthropometric measurements like body mass index, waist circumference and the waist-to-hip ratio have been used to stratify CAD risk [
      • Yusuf S.
      • Hawken S.
      • Ounpuu S.
      • et al.
      Obesity and the risk of myocardial infarction in 27,000 participants from 52 countries: a case-control study.
      ]. However, in our study differently from CT adiposity measurements no relation between these anthropometric measurements with CAD and CAC was found. Our results do not invalidate previously consecrated and easily obtainable and inexpensive measurements of adiposity like the BMI or waist circumference [
      • Calle E.E.
      • Thun M.J.
      • Petrelli J.M.
      • Rodriguez C.
      • Heath Jr., C.W.
      Body-mass index and mortality in a prospective cohort of U.S. adults.
      ,
      • Kannel W.B.
      • Wilson P.W.
      • Nam B.H.
      • D’Agostino R.B.
      Risk stratification of obesity as a coronary risk factor.
      ,
      • Peeters A.
      • Barendregt J.J.
      • Willekens F.
      • et al.
      Obesity in adulthood and its consequences for life expectancy: a life-table analysis.
      ,
      • Wilson P.W.
      • D’Agostino R.B.
      • Sullivan L.
      • Parise H.
      • Kannel W.B.
      Overweight and obesity as determinants of cardiovascular risk: the Framingham experience.
      ,
      • Yusuf S.
      • Hawken S.
      • Ounpuu S.
      • et al.
      Obesity and the risk of myocardial infarction in 27,000 participants from 52 countries: a case-control study.
      ,
      • Balkau B.
      • Deanfield J.E.
      • Despres J.P.
      • et al.
      International Day for the Evaluation of Abdominal Obesity (IDEA): a study of waist circumference, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes mellitus in 168,000 primary care patients in 63 countries.
      ,
      • Canoy D.
      • Boekholdt S.M.
      • Wareham N.
      • et al.
      Body fat distribution and risk of coronary heart disease in men and women in the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition in Norfolk cohort: a population-based prospective study.
      ,
      • Fox C.S.
      • Massaro J.M.
      • Hoffmann U.
      • et al.
      Abdominal visceral and subcutaneous adipose tissue compartments: association with metabolic risk factors in the Framingham Heart Study.
      ,
      • Nicklas B.J.
      • Penninx B.W.
      • Ryan A.S.
      • et al.
      Visceral adipose tissue cutoffs associated with metabolic risk factors for coronary heart disease in women.
      ]. The lack of association of these markers with CAD probably occurred due the high prevalence of increased adiposity expressed by high BMI and waist circumference measurements in both study groups. In relation to CAC, we have found that the presence of the metabolic syndrome defined by IDF, in which increased abdominal adiposity is an obligatory condition was indeed associated with the presence of CAC [
      • Zimmet P.
      • Magliano D.
      • Matsuzawa Y.
      • Alberti G.
      • Shaw J.
      The metabolic syndrome: a global public health problem and a new definition.
      ].
      In addition to CAC quantification CT angiography allows de detection of purely non-calcified plaques, mixed plaques as well as luminal obstruction, with this method presenting a greater sensitivity to detect early atherosclerotic disease than CAC quantification alone [
      • Miller J.M.
      • Rochitte C.E.
      • Dewey M.
      • et al.
      Diagnostic performance of coronary angiography by 64-row CT.
      ,
      • Budoff M.J.
      • Dowe D.
      • Jollis J.G.
      • et al.
      Diagnostic performance of 64-multidetector row coronary computed tomographic angiography for evaluation of coronary artery stenosis in individuals without known coronary artery disease: results from the prospective multicenter ACCURACY (Assessment by Coronary Computed Tomographic Angiography of Individuals Undergoing Invasive Coronary Angiography) trial.
      ,
      • Meijboom W.B.
      • Meijs M.F.
      • Schuijf J.D.
      • et al.
      Diagnostic accuracy of 64-slice computed tomography coronary angiography: a prospective, multicenter, multivendor study.
      ]. This study shows that when CT angiography is used for CAD detection CT visceral adiposity measurements were all related to CAD even when there was a high prevalence of clinical markers of obesity. These results confirm previous studies that demonstrated the CT superiority to evaluate CAD risk [
      • Fox C.S.
      • Massaro J.M.
      • Hoffmann U.
      • et al.
      Abdominal visceral and subcutaneous adipose tissue compartments: association with metabolic risk factors in the Framingham Heart Study.
      ,
      • Nicklas B.J.
      • Penninx B.W.
      • Ryan A.S.
      • et al.
      Visceral adipose tissue cutoffs associated with metabolic risk factors for coronary heart disease in women.
      ]. In addition, even considering the relative high prevalence of dyslipidemia, hypertension, and the metabolic syndrome the multivariate analysis showed that after age, VFA measured at T12-L1 level was the only other independent variable related to CAD. However, evaluating each visceral fat compartment separately, VFA L4-L5 (representing the umbilicus region) and LSAR (representing hepatic fat) were also related to CAD. One possible explanation for the superiority of upper visceral fat compartment as CAD determinant over the other fat depots is that VFA T12-L1 represents both visceral and hepatic fats. There is evidence that hepatic steatosis independently predicts the metabolic syndrome, type 2 Diabetes, cardiovascular and liver diseases [
      • Kotronen A.
      • Yki-Jarvinen H.
      Fatty liver: a novel component of the metabolic syndrome.
      ,
      • Santos R.D.
      • Nasir K.
      • Conceição R.D.
      • et al.
      Hepatic steatosis is associated with a greater prevalence of coronary artery calcification in asymptomatic men.
      ].
      Previously Kobayashi et al. [
      • Kobayashi H.
      • Nakamura T.
      • Miyaoka K.
      • et al.
      Visceral fat accumulation contributes to insulin resistance, small-sized low-density lipoprotein, and progression of coronary artery disease in middle-aged non-obese Japanese men.
      ] and Zamboni et al. [
      • Zamboni M.
      • Armellini F.
      • Sheiban I.
      • et al.
      Relation of body fat distribution in men and degree of coronary narrowings in coronary artery disease.
      ], showed that visceral fat, evaluated by CT, was related to coronary stenosis determined by invasive coronary angiography. Recently, considerable advances have been made in the field of cardiac imaging with newer 64-slice multidetector-row CT, with high diagnostic accuracy for detection of coronary plaques, allowing early and reliable non-invasive detection of CAD [
      • Leber A.W.
      • Knez A.
      • von Z.F.
      • et al.
      Quantification of obstructive and nonobstructive coronary lesions by 64-slice computed tomography: a comparative study with quantitative coronary angiography and intravascular ultrasound.
      ,
      • Miller J.M.
      • Rochitte C.E.
      • Dewey M.
      • et al.
      Diagnostic performance of coronary angiography by 64-row CT.
      ,
      • Budoff M.J.
      • Dowe D.
      • Jollis J.G.
      • et al.
      Diagnostic performance of 64-multidetector row coronary computed tomographic angiography for evaluation of coronary artery stenosis in individuals without known coronary artery disease: results from the prospective multicenter ACCURACY (Assessment by Coronary Computed Tomographic Angiography of Individuals Undergoing Invasive Coronary Angiography) trial.
      ,
      • Meijboom W.B.
      • Meijs M.F.
      • Schuijf J.D.
      • et al.
      Diagnostic accuracy of 64-slice computed tomography coronary angiography: a prospective, multicenter, multivendor study.
      ]. The presence of atherosclerotic plaques even those considered non-significant (<50% luminal narrowing) are associated with an elevated event risk as compared with patients without CAD [
      • Min J.K.
      • Shaw L.J.
      • Devereux R.B.
      • et al.
      Prognostic value of multidetector coronary computed tomographic angiography for prediction of all-cause mortality.
      ,
      • Nasir K.
      • Shaw L.J.
      • Liu S.T.
      • et al.
      Ethnic differences in the prognostic value of coronary artery calcification for all-cause mortality.
      ,
      • Ostrom M.P.
      • Gopal A.
      • Ahmadi N.
      • et al.
      Mortality incidence and the severity of coronary atherosclerosis assessed by computed tomography angiography.
      ,
      • Pundziute G.
      • Schuijf J.D.
      • Jukema J.W.
      • et al.
      Prognostic value of multislice computed tomography coronary angiography in patients with known or suspected coronary artery disease.
      ]. Early diagnosis might be important once these individuals usually are asymptomatic and present normal functional tests being unexpected candidates to invasive coronary angiographies. We were able to show a relation between CAD by CT angiography and visceral fat, highlighting the ability and high sensitivity of CT angiography to detect initial stages of atherosclerosis.
      Identified limitations of our study are its cross-sectional design, a referred population from a single center with high prevalence of risk factors including obesity that limits the applicability of our results to the general population and other ethnicities. In addition, there was a high prevalence of lipid and blood pressure lowering medication use, a fact that might have weakened the association of parameters like Framingham risk score and CAD. However, even considering these facts visceral adiposity quantified by CT was still related to the presence of CAD detected CT angiography.
      In conclusion, CT visceral fat evaluation in different sites was related to CAD and was an independent marker of CAD determined by CT angiography. Prospective studies are necessary to demonstrate its role in clinical practice.

      Acknowledgements

      This study was supported by a grant from FAPESP (Fundação de Amparo a Pesquisa do Estado de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo Brazil).

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