Increased epicardial adipose tissue (EAT) volume in type 2 diabetes mellitus and association with metabolic syndrome and severity of coronary atherosclerosis

Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2009 Jun;70(6):876-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2265.2008.03411.x. Epub 2008 Sep 5.


Objective: Epicardial adipose tissue (EAT) is a part of visceral fat deposited around the heart between the pericardium and myocardium along the distribution of coronary arteries. EAT thickness is reported to be associated with coronary atherosclerosis; however, no study has measured EAT volume in patients with type 2 diabetes or investigate its association with coronary artery disease.

Design: A hospital-based case control study.

Patients: A total of 49 patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and 78 nondiabetic controls were studied.

Measurements: Cardiac multislice computed tomography was used to measure EAT volume, Gensini score, coronary artery calcium score and, coronary lesions. The relationships between EAT volume, markers of coronary atherosclerosis and anthropometric and biochemical parameters of metabolic syndrome (MetS) were investigated.

Results: EAT volume was significantly higher in patients with T2DM than in nondiabetic subjects (166.1 +/- 60.6 cm(3) vs. 123.4 +/- 41.8 cm(3), P < 0.0001). Logistic regression analysis revealed independent and significant associations between EAT and diabetic status. EAT volume was significantly associated with components of MetS (BMI, waist circumference, fasting serum glucose, total cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol, and triglycerides levels), Gensini score, coronary lesions, coronary disease and coronary calcium scores. Univariate, multivariate and trend analyses confirmed that EAT volume was associated with MetS component clustering and the coronary atherosclerosis index.

Conclusions: The analytical results indicate that EAT volume is increased in T2DM patients and is associated with unfavourable components of MetS and coronary atherosclerosis. The close anatomical relationship between EAT and the coronary arteries, combined with other evidence indicating that EAT is a biologically active adipokine-secreting tissue, suggest that EAT participates in the pathogenesis of diabetic coronary atherosclerosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / chemistry*
  • Adipose Tissue / diagnostic imaging
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Coronary Artery Disease / diagnosis*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / diagnostic imaging
  • Coronary Artery Disease / etiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / diagnostic imaging
  • Metabolic Syndrome / etiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Pericardium / chemistry*
  • Pericardium / diagnostic imaging
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed