OBJECTIVE - The goal of this study was to examine whether fatty liver and abdominal visceral adipose tissue (VAT) are jointly associated with cardiometabolic abnormalities.
METHODS AND RESULTS - Black participants were from the Jackson Heart Study (n=2882, 65% women) who underwent computed tomography. Fatty liver was measured by liver attenuation in Hounsfield units (LA), and VAT was quantified volumetrically. Cross-sectional associations between LA, VAT, and cardiometabolic risk factors were assessed using linear and logistic regression, and their joint associations were further examined in 4 subgroups: high-LA/low-VAT (n=1704), low-LA/low-VAT (n=422), high-LA/high-VAT (n=436), and low-LA/high-VAT (n=320). Both LA and VAT were associated with most cardiometabolic traits (all P<0.0001), which persisted after additional adjustment for each other (LA, P<0.01-0.0001; VAT, P<0.0001). In bootstrap analyses, the regression coefficient of VAT was significantly greater than LA for triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, impaired glucose, and metabolic syndrome (P=0.009-0.0001). The interaction between LA and VAT was significant for high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (P=0.002), impaired glucose (P=0.003), and metabolic syndrome (P=0.04). Among 4 subgroups, participants with higher VAT and lower LA had higher prevalence of cardiometabolic traits than those with each condition alone.
CONCLUSION - Both fatty liver and VAT are independent correlates of cardiometabolic risk, but the associations are stronger for VAT than for fatty liver.