The following is a summary of “Accumulation in Visceral Adipose Tissue Over 6 Years Is Associated With Lower Paraspinal Muscle Density,” published in the June 2023 issue of Endocrinology & Metabolism by Liu, et al.
Visceral adipose tissue (VAT) is known to have metabolic activity and potential effects on surrounding tissues, including muscle. Understanding the impact of changes in VAT on muscle is important, as many adults experience VAT accumulation with age. For a study, researchers sought to examine the association between changes in VAT over a 6-year period and paraspinal muscle density, a measure of fatty infiltration.
The study included 1,145 participants from the Framingham Study third-generation cohort who underwent quantitative computed tomography scans of the spine at baseline and after 6 years. Muscle density and VAT were measured. Multiple regression analysis was conducted to assess the association between muscle density at follow-up (the primary outcome) and VAT changes while adjusting for baseline VAT, age, sex, height, menopausal status, diabetes presence, and physical activity. Separate analyses were performed for men and women.
After accounting for the covariates, individuals with the greatest increase in VAT over 6 years showed significantly lower paraspinal muscle density at follow-up. Specifically, for every 100-cm3 increase in VAT, there was an estimated 0.302 (95% CI: −0.380 to −0.224) and 0.476 (95% CI: −0.598 to −0.354) decrease in muscle density (HU) in men and women, respectively (both P values < .001).
The study’s findings indicated that the age-related accumulation of VAT in both men and women is associated with lower muscle density. VAT may represent a modifiable risk factor for adverse musculoskeletal outcomes during aging.