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.