Quantification of human central adipose tissue depots: An anatomically matched comparison between dxa and mri

Christopher D. Crabtree, Richard A. Lafountain, Parker N. Hyde, Chong Chen, Yue Pan, Nathan Lamba, Teryn N. Sapper, Jay A. Short, Madison L. Kackley, Alex Buga, Vincent J. Miller, Debbie Scandling, Irma Andersson, Samantha Barker, Houchun H. Hu, Jeff S. Volek, Orlando P. Simonetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Excess visceral adipose tissue (VAT) and VAT volume relative to subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) are associated with elevated health risks. This study compares fat measurements by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In total, 21 control subjects (Control) and 16 individuals with metabolic syndrome (MetSyn) were scanned by DXA and MRI. The region measured by MRI was matched to the android region defined by DXA, and MRI reproducibility was also evaluated. In addition, liver fat fraction was quantified via MRI and whole-body fat by DXA. VAT measurements are interchangeable between DXA and MRI in the Control (R = 0.946), MetSyn (R = 0.968), and combined cohort (R = 0.983). VAT/SAT ratio did not differ in the Control group (P = .10), but VAT/SAT ratio measured by DXA was significantly higher in the MetSyn group (P < .01) and the combined (P = .03) cohort. Intraobserver (ICC = 0.998) and interobserver (ICC = 0.977) reproducibility of MRI VAT measurements was excellent. Liver fat fraction by MRI was higher (P = .001) in MetSyn (12.4% 6 7.6%) than in controls (2.6% 6 2.2%), as was whole-body fat percentage by DXA (P = .001) between the MetSyn (42.0% 6 8.1%) and Control groups (26.7% 6 6.9%). DXA and MRI VAT are interchangeable when measured over an anatomically matched region of the abdomen, while SAT and VAT/SAT ratio differ between the 2 modalities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)358-366
Number of pages9
JournalTomography (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
OPS receives research funding support from The Robert F. Wolfe and Edgar T. Wolfe Foundation and from Siemens Healthineers.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Authors. Published by Grapho Publications, LLC This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license.


  • Adipose
  • DXA
  • MRI
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Visceral


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