Femoral-gluteal subcutaneous and intermuscular adipose tissues have independent and opposing relationships with CVD risk

J Appl Physiol (1985). 2008 Mar;104(3):700-7. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01035.2007. Epub 2007 Dec 13.


Femoral-gluteal adipose tissue (AT) may be cardioprotective through fatty acids uptake. Femoral-gluteal AT has previously been defined as leg fat measured by dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA); however, subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) and intermuscular adipose tissue (IMAT) are inseparable using DXA. This study investigated the independent relationships between femoral-gluteal SAT, femoral-gluteal IMAT, and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors [fasting serum measures of glucose, total cholesterol (TC), high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDLC), triglycerides (TG) and insulin] and whether race differences exist in femoral-gluteal AT distribution. Adult Caucasians (56 men and 104 women), African-Americans (37 men and 76 women), and Asians (11 men and 35 women) had total AT (TAT) including femoral-gluteal AT (upper leg SAT and IMAT) and visceral AT (VAT) by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). General linear models identified the independent effects of femoral-gluteal SAT and femoral-gluteal IMAT on each risk factor after covarying for TAT, VAT, age, race, sex, and two-way interactions. Femoral-gluteal IMAT and glucose (P < 0.05) were positively associated independent of VAT. There were also significant inverse associations between femoral-gluteal SAT and insulin (P < 0.01) and TG (P < 0.05), although the addition of VAT rendered these effects nonsignificant, possibly due to collinearity. Asian women had less femoral-gluteal SAT and greater VAT than Caucasians and African-Americans (P < 0.05) and Asian and African-American men had greater femoral-gluteal IMAT than Caucasians, adjusted for age and TAT (P < 0.05 for both). Femoral-gluteal SAT and femoral-gluteal IMAT distribution varies by sex and race, and these two components have independent and opposing relationships with CVD risk factors.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adiposity*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Asian People
  • Black or African American
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Buttocks
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / ethnology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / metabolism
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / pathology
  • Female
  • Femur
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Lipids / blood
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Research Design
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Subcutaneous Fat / pathology*
  • White People


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Lipids