Comparison of the relative contributions of intra-abdominal and liver fat to components of the metabolic syndrome

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2011 Jan;19(1):23-8. doi: 10.1038/oby.2010.137. Epub 2010 Jun 10.


Abdominally obese individuals with the metabolic syndrome often have excess fat deposition both intra-abdominally (IA) and in the liver, but the relative contribution of these two deposits to variation in components of the metabolic syndrome remains unclear. We determined the mutually independent quantitative contributions of IA and liver fat to components of the syndrome, fasting serum (fS) insulin, and liver enzymes and measures of hepatic insulin sensitivity in 356 subjects (mean age 42 years, mean BMI 29.7 kg/m²) in whom liver fat and abdominal fat volumes were measured. IA and liver fat contents were correlated (r = 0.65, P < 0.0001). In multivariate linear regression analyses including either liver or IA fat, liver fat or IA fat explained variation in fS-triglyceride (TG) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, plasma glucose, insulin and liver enzyme concentrations, and hepatic insulin sensitivity independent of age, gender, subcutaneous (SC) fat, and/or lean body mass (LBM). Including both liver and IA fat, liver and IA fat both explained variation in TG, HDL cholesterol, insulin and hepatic insulin sensitivity independent of each other and of age, gender, SC fat, and LBM. Liver fat independently predicted glucose and liver enzymes. SC fat and age explained variation in blood pressure. In conclusion, both IA and liver fat independently of each other explain variation in serum TG, HDL cholesterol, insulin concentrations and hepatic insulin sensitivity, thus supporting that both fat depots are important predictors of these components of the metabolic syndrome.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / diagnostic imaging
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Adipose Tissue / physiology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Female
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / diagnostic imaging
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / metabolism
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / physiology*
  • Lipids / blood
  • Liver / chemistry
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / blood
  • Metabolic Syndrome / diagnostic imaging
  • Metabolic Syndrome / etiology*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / metabolism
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Radiography
  • Young Adult


  • Lipids
  • Glucose