Arterial compliance and distensibility are modulated by body composition in both men and women but by insulin sensitivity only in women

Diabetologia. 1999 Feb;42(2):214-21. doi: 10.1007/s001250051141.


Large artery stiffening could contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease. The aim of this study was to investigate associations between arterial stiffness and diameter with insulin sensitivity and body composition in healthy men and women. In healthy, young (< 41 years old), non-obese (BMI < 27 kg/m2) men (n = 17) and women (n = 17), we measured the arterial diameter, the distension, the distensibility coefficient and the compliance coefficient of the elastic common carotid and muscular femoral arteries with a non-invasive ultrasonographic method. We also assessed glucose uptake (by a euglycaemic hyperinsulinaemic clamp technique), total body fat and lean body mass (by bioelectrical impedance analysis) and abdominal subcutaneous and visceral fat area (by magnetic resonance imaging). In women, but not in men, the distension and distensibility and compliance coefficients of the femoral artery were negatively associated with insulin concentrations (beta = -0.62, p = 0.008; beta = -0.65, p = 0.005 and beta = -0.59, p = 0.01), and positively with glucose uptake (beta = 0.59, p = 0.02; beta = 0.68, p = 0.005 and beta = 0.54, p = 0.04). Associations with glucose uptake were independent of the mean arterial pressure and body composition. In men and women, arterial compliance was positively associated with fat mass variables, which were mediated by a strong association between the femoral artery diameter and lean body mass (beta = 0.80, p < 0.001) and between the common carotid artery diameter and visceral fat area (beta = 0.56, p = 0.001). We found an independent association between insulin resistance and arterial stiffness, which was more pronounced in women than in men.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen
  • Adipose Tissue
  • Adult
  • Arteries / physiology*
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Composition* / physiology*
  • Carotid Arteries / anatomy & histology
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Compliance*
  • Female
  • Femoral Artery / anatomy & histology
  • Humans
  • Insulin / pharmacology*
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Sex Characteristics*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Insulin