Breast adiposity: Menopausal status impact and its influence on glycemic and anthropometric metabolic parameters

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2024 Apr 1:dgae205. doi: 10.1210/clinem/dgae205. Online ahead of print.


Context: Ectopic fat depots are related to the deregulation of energy homeostasis, leading to diseases related to obesity and metabolic syndrome (MS). Despite significant changes in body composition over women's lifespan, little is known about the role of breast adipose tissue (BrAT) and its possible utilization as an ectopic fat depot in women of different menopausal statuses.

Objective: We aimed to assess the relationship between BrAT and metabolic glycemic and lipid profiles and body composition parameters in adult women.

Methods: In this cross-sectional study, we enrolled adult women undergoing routine mammograms to perform history and physical examination, body composition assessment, semi-automated assessment of breast adiposity (BA) from mammograms and fasting blood collection for biochemical analysis. Correlations and multivariate regression analysis were used to examine the associations of the BA with metabolic and body composition parameters.

Results: Of the 101 participants included in the final analysis, 76.2% were in menopause, and 23.8% were in premenopause. The BA was positively related with fasting plasma glucose, glycated hemoglobin, homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance, body mass index, waist circumference, body fat percentage, abdominal visceral and subcutaneous fat when adjusted for age among women in postmenopause. Also, the BA was an independent predictor of hyperglycemia and metabolic syndrome. These associations were not present among women in premenopause.

Conclusion: The BA was related to different adverse body composition and metabolic factors in women in postmenopause. The results suggest that there might be a relevant BrAT endocrine role during menopause, whose mechanisms are yet to be clarified, which thus opens up research perspectives on the subject as well as on clinical settings.

Keywords: breast adipose tissue; breast adiposity; ectopic fat; mammograms; menopausal status; metabolic homeostasis.