Objective: Pericoronary adipose tissue (PCAT) may create a pro-inflammatory state, contributing to the development of coronary artery disease (CAD). We sought to evaluate the feasibility of a novel volumetric PCAT quantification method using a novel threshold based computed tomography approach. In addition we determined the relation between PCAT volumes and CAD.
Methods: In 51 patients (49.5±5.1 years, 64.8% male) who underwent 64-slice MDCT, we measured threshold-based PCAT volumes using distance and anatomic-based methods. Using the most reproducible method, we performed the proximal 40-mm distance measurement in three groups as stratified by coronary plaque and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) levels: Group 1 (presence of coronary plaque, hs-CRP >2.0 mg/L); an intermediate group (Group 2, no plaque, hs-CRP >2.0 mg/L); and Group 3 (no plaque, hs-CRP<1.0 mg/L). We compared PCAT volumes to the presence of coronary plaque on a patient (n=51) and vessel (n=153) basis. On a subsegment basis (n=1224), we compared PCAT volume to the presence of plaque as well as plaque morphology.
Results: Distance-based PCAT volume measurements yielded excellent reproducibility with intra-observer intraclass correlation (ICC) of 0.997 and inter-observer ICC of 0.951. On a both a per-patient and per-vessel analysis, adjusted PCAT volume was greater in patients with plaque (Group 1) than without plaque (Groups 2 and 3, p<0.001). No difference in PCAT volume was seen between high and low hs-CRP groups without plaque (p=0.51). Adjusted PCAT volumes were higher in subsegments with plaque as compared without (p<0.001). Additionally, adjusted PCAT volume was greatest in subsegments with mixed plaque followed by non-calcified plaque, calcified plaque, and the lowest volume in segments with no plaque (p<0.001).
Conclusion: In this proof-of-concept study, threshold based PCAT volume assessment is feasible and highly reproducible. PCAT volume is increased in patients and vessels with coronary plaques. Surrounding vessel subsegments with coronary plaque, particularly mixed plaques, have greatest PCAT volume and highlight the effect of local PCAT in the development of coronary atherosclerosis.
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