Association between non-subcutaneous adiposity and calcified coronary plaque: A substudy of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis

Jingzhong Ding, Stephen B. Kritchevsky, Fang Chi Hsu, Tamara B. Harris, Gregory L. Burke, Robert C. Detrano, Moyses Szklo, Michael H. Criqui, Matthew Allison, Pamela Ouyang, Elizabeth R. Brown, J. Jeffrey Carr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Excessive non-subcutaneous fat deposition may impair the functions of surrounding tissues and organs through the release of inflammatory cytokines and free fatty acids. Objective: We examined the cross-sectional association between non-subcutaneous adiposity and calcified coronary plaque, a noninvasive measure of coronary artery disease burden. Design: Participants in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis underwent computed tomography (CT) assessment of calcified coronary plaque. We measured multiple fat depots in 398 white and black participants (47% men, 43% black), aged 47-86 y, from Forsyth County, NC, during 2002-2005, with the use of cardiac and abdominal CT scans. In addition to examining each depot separately, we also created a non-subcutaneous fat index with the standard scores of non-subcutaneous fat depots. Results: A total of 219 participants (55%) were found to have calcified coronary plaque. After adjusting for demographics, lifestyle factors, and height, calcified coronary plaque was associated with a 1 SD increment in the non-subcutaneous fat index [odds ratio (OR): 1.41; 95% CI: 1.08, 1.84], pericardial fat (OR: 1.38; 95% CI: 1.04, 1.84), abdominal visceral fat (OR: 1.35; 95% CI: 1.03, 1.76) but not with fat content in the liver, intermuscular fat, or abdominal subcutaneous fat. The relation between non-subcutaneous fat index and calcified coronary plaque remained after further adjustment for abdominal subcutaneous fat (OR: 1.40; 95% CI: 1.00, 1.94). The relation did not differ by sex and ethnicity. Conclusions: The overall burden of non-subcutaneous fat deposition, but not abdominal subcutaneous fat, may be a correlate of coronary atherosclerosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)645-650
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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