Association between single-slice measurements of visceral and abdominal subcutaneous adipose tissue with volumetric measurements: the Framingham Heart Study

Int J Obes (Lond). 2010 Apr;34(4):781-7. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2009.279. Epub 2010 Jan 12.


Objective: Volumetric visceral abdominal adipose tissue (VAT) and subcutaneous abdominal adipose tissue (SAT) as measured by computed tomography (CT) are associated with metabolic risk factors. We sought to identify the correlations of VAT and SAT between area-based measures at different anatomic locations with volumetric measurements to identify the optimal anatomic site, and to relate measurements at this site with metabolic risk factors.

Methods: We measured SAT and VAT volumes across the total imaging volume, whereas we measured SAT and VAT area at seven predefined anatomic landmarks in 200 participants from the Framingham Heart Study (mean age 54 years, 50% women) who underwent abdominal multi-detector CT. Correlation coefficients were used to assess the association between area measurements and volumes as well as metabolic risk factors stratified by gender.

Results: Area-based measurements of SAT and VAT obtained at all anatomic landmarks were strongly associated with SAT and VAT volumes (all r>0.93, P<0.0001 and r>0.87, P<0.0001, for women and men; respectively). Consistently, area-based measurements of SAT and VAT obtained at L(3/4) were most strongly associated with volumetric measured VAT and SAT independent of age (both r=0.99 in men, r=0.96 for SAT and r=0.99 for VAT in women, all P-value <0.0001) and were similarly correlated with risk factors compared with SAT and VAT volumes (all P<0.05 for fasting plasma glucose, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein, systolic blood pressure).

Conclusion: Among area-based measurements of SAT and VAT, those obtained at the level of L(3/4) were strongly associated with SAT and VAT volumes and cardio-metabolic risk factors in both men and women.

Keywords: abdominal adiposity; adipose tissue quantification; cardiovascular risk factors; computed tomography; single-slice measurement.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / anatomy & histology
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / diagnostic imaging*
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / diagnostic imaging*
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Obesity / pathology
  • Risk Factors
  • Subcutaneous Fat, Abdominal / anatomy & histology
  • Subcutaneous Fat, Abdominal / diagnostic imaging*
  • Subcutaneous Fat, Abdominal / metabolism
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed