Visceral fat is associated with lower brain volume in healthy middle-aged adults

Stéphanie Debette, Alexa Beiser, Udo Hoffmann, Charles DeCarli, Christopher J. O'Donnell, Joseph M. Massaro, Rhoda Au, Jayandra J. Himali, Philip A. Wolf, Caroline S. Fox, Sudha Seshadri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

134 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: Midlife obesity has been associated with an increased risk of dementia. The underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. Our aim was to examine the cross-sectional association of body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), and computed tomography (CT)-based measurements of subcutaneous (SAT) and visceral (VAT) adipose tissue with various magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) markers of brain aging in middle-aged community adults. Methods: Participants from the Framingham Offspring cohort were eligible if in addition to having measurements of BMI, WC, WHR, SAT, and VAT, they had undergone a volumetric brain MRI scan with measurements of total brain volume (TCBV), temporal horn volume (THV), white matter hyperintensity volume (WMHV), and MRI-defined brain infarcts (BI). All analyses were adjusted for age, sex, and time interval between abdominal CT and brain MRI. Results: In a sample of 733 community participants (mean age, 60 years; 53% women), we observed an inverse association of BMI (estimate by standard deviation unit ± standard error = -0.27 ± 0.12; p = 0.02), WC (-0.30 ± 0.12; p = 0.01), WHR (-0.37 ± 0.12; p = 0.02), SAT (-0.23 ± 0.11; p = 0.04), and VAT (-0.36 ± 0.12; p = 0.002) with TCBV, independent of vascular risk factors. The association between VAT and TCBV was the strongest and most robust, and was also independent of BMI (-0.35 ± 0.15; p = 0.02) and insulin resistance (-0.32 ± 0.13; p = 0.01). When adjusting for C-reactive protein levels, the associations were attenuated (-0.17 ± 0.13; p = 0.17 for VAT). No consistently significant association was observed between the anthropometric or CT-based abdominal fat measurements and THV, WMHV, or BI. Interpretation: In middle-aged community participants, we observed a significant inverse association of anthropometric and CT-based measurements of abdominal, especially visceral, fat with total brain volume.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136-144
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of Neurology
Volume68
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2010

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Debette, S., Beiser, A., Hoffmann, U., DeCarli, C., O'Donnell, C. J., Massaro, J. M., Au, R., Himali, J. J., Wolf, P. A., Fox, C. S., & Seshadri, S. (2010). Visceral fat is associated with lower brain volume in healthy middle-aged adults. Annals of Neurology, 68(2), 136-144. https://doi.org/10.1002/ana.22062