Intermuscular adipose tissue and subclinical coronary artery calcification in midlife: The CARDIA study (coronary artery risk development in young adults)

James G. Terry, Christina M. Shay, Pamela J. Schreiner, David R. Jacobs, Otto A. Sanchez, Jared P. Reis, David C. Goff, Samuel S. Gidding, Lyn M. Steffen, John Jeffrey Carr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Objective-Excess deposition of fat within and around vital organs and nonadipose tissues is hypothesized to contribute to cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. We evaluated the association of abdominal intermuscular adipose tissue (IMAT) volume with coronary artery calcification in the CARDIA study (Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults) participants. Approach and Results-We measured IMAT in the abdominal muscles, visceral adipose tissue and pericardial adipose tissue, and coronary artery calcification using computed tomography in 3051 CARDIA participants (56% women) at the CARDIA year 25 examination (2010-2011). Mean IMAT volume and mean IMAT/total muscle volume (IMAT normalized for muscle size) were calculated in a 10-mm block of slices centered at L3-L4. Multivariable analyses included potential confounders and traditional cardiovascular disease risk factors. Compared with the lowest quartile, the upper quartile of abdominal IMAT volume was associated with higher coronary artery calcification prevalence (odds ratio [95% confidence interval], 1.6 [1.2-2.1]) after adjusting for cardiovascular disease risk factors. Results were similar for highest versus lowest quartile of IMAT normalized to total muscle volume (odds ratio [95% confidence interval], 1.5 [1.1-2.0]). Significant associations of higher IMAT and normalized IMAT with coronary artery calcification prevalence persisted when body mass index, visceral adipose tissue, or pericardial adipose tissue were added to the models. Conclusions-In a large, community-based, cross-sectional study, we found that higher abdominal skeletal muscle adipose tissue volume was associated with subclinical atherosclerosis independent of traditional cardiovascular disease risk factors and other adipose depots.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2370-2378
Number of pages9
JournalArteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The CARDIA study (Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults) is conducted and supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) in collaboration with the University of Alabama at Birmingham (HHSN268201300025C and HHSN268201300026C), Northwestern University (HHSN268201300027C), University of Minnesota (HHSN268201300028C), Kaiser Foundation Research Institute (HHSN268201300029C), Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (HHSN268200900041C), and Vanderbilt School of Medicine (R01-HL098445). CARDIA is also partially supported by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and an intra-agency agreement between NIA and NHLBI (AG0005).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Heart Association, Inc.


  • Adipose tissue
  • Body mass index
  • Muscle
  • Prevalence
  • Risk factors
  • Vascular calcification


Dive into the research topics of 'Intermuscular adipose tissue and subclinical coronary artery calcification in midlife: The CARDIA study (coronary artery risk development in young adults)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this