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OBJECTIVE - Both fatty liver and abdominal visceral fat (VAT) are associated with cardiometabolic risk factors. Whether fatty liver and VAT are jointly associated with coronary artery (CAC) or abdominal aortic (AAC) calcification is not clear.
METHODS - Jackson Heart Study (JHS) participants (n = 2884, mean age 60 years, 65% women) underwent non-contrast CT Exam for assessment of fatty liver, VAT, and CAC and AAC. Fatty liver was measured by liver attenuation (LA; low LA = high fatty liver). The Agatston score was used to quantify the amount of calcified artery plaque and the presence of calcified artery plaque was defined as Agatston score>0. Cross-sectional associations of LA and VAT with CAC and AAC were examined in logistic regression models.
RESULTS - LA (per 1-standard deviation [SD] decrement) was associated inversely with CAC in age-sex-adjusted (OR 0.84, 95%CI 0.7-0.9, p = 0.0001) and multivariable-adjusted models (OR 0.89, 95%CI 0.8-0.9, p = 0.01). The association persisted for LA with CAC when additionally adjusted for body mass index (BMI) (OR 0.89, 95%CI 0.8-0.9, p = 0.03) or VAT (OR 0.90, 95%CI 0.8-0.9, p = 0.04). Abdominal VAT (per 1-SD increment) was positively associated with CAC in age-sex-adjusted models (OR 1.27, 95%CI 1.2-1.4, p = 0.0001), but the association was diminished with multivariable adjustment (OR 1.10, 95%CI 0.9-1.2, p = 0.09) and with additional adjustment for LA (p = 0.24) or BMI (p = 0.33). For AAC, the associations with LA and VAT were only present in age-sex-adjusted models. Finally, we did not observe interactions between LA and VAT for CAC (p = 0.18) or AAC (p = 0.24).
CONCLUSION - Fatty liver is associated with coronary atherosclerotic calcification independent of abdominal VAT or BMI in African Americans. Further investigations to uncover the clinical implications of fatty liver on coronary atherosclerosis in obesity are warranted.
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