Greater adipose tissue infiltration in skeletal muscle among older men of African ancestry

Iva Miljkovic, Jane A. Cauley, Moira A. Petit, Kristine E. Ensrud, Elsa Strotmeyer, Yahtyng Sheu, Christopher L. Gordon, Bret H. Goodpaster, Clareann H. Bunker, Alan L. Patrick, Victor W. Wheeler, Lewis H. Kuller, Kimberly A. Faulkner, Joseph M. Zmuda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Context: There is substantial variability across ethnic groups in the predisposition to obesity and associated metabolic abnormalities. Skeletal muscle fat has been identified as an important depot that increases with aging and may contribute to the development of diabetes. Objective: We tested whether men of African ancestry have greater calf intermuscular adipose tissue (IMAT), compared to Caucasian men, and whether IMAT is associated with type 2 diabetes (T2D). Design: We measured fasting serum glucose, body mass index, total body fat by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, and calf skeletal muscle composition by quantitative computed tomography in 1105 Caucasian and 518 Afro-Caribbean men aged 65+. Results: Compared to Caucasian men, we found greater IMAT and lower sc adipose tissue in Afro-Caribbean men at all levels of total adiposity (P < 0.0001), including the subset of men matched on age and dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry total body fat percentage (P < 0.001). In addition, IMAT was 29 and 23% greater, whereas sc adipose tissue was 6 and 8% lower among Caucasian and Afro-Caribbean men with T2D, respectively, compared to men without T2D (P < 0.01). Observed differences in intermuscular and sc fat, both ethnic and between men with and without T2D, were independent of age, height, calf skeletal muscle and total adipose tissue, and lifestyle factors. Conclusions: Our analyses suggest that despite lower total adiposity, skeletal muscle fat infiltration is greater among African than among Caucasian ancestry men and is associated with T2D in both ethnic groups. Additional studies are needed to determine the mechanisms contributing to ethnic differences in skeletal muscle adiposity and to define the metabolic and health implications of this fat depot.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2735-2742
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Dr. Miljkovic is supported by the Mentored Research Scientist Development Award from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (grant K01DK083029 ). The Tobago Health Study and the Osteoporotic Fractures in Men Study were supported by grants R01AR049747, U01 AR45580, U01 AR45614, U01 AR45632, U01 AR45647, U01 AR45654, U01 AR45583, U01 AG18197 and M01 RR000334 from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, the National Institute on Aging, and the National Cancer Institute .


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