Abdominal Fat Depots and Subclinical Carotid Artery Atherosclerosis in Women With and Without HIV Infection

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Abstract

Background:

Data on associations between abdominal fat depot mass and subclinical atherosclerosis are limited, especially in women with HIV.

Methods:

We assessed cross-sectional associations of dual X-ray absorptiometry scan-derived estimates of visceral adipose tissue (VAT) and abdominal subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) with 3 measures of subclinical carotid artery atherosclerosis—carotid artery stiffness (Young's modulus of elasticity), presence of carotid artery lesions, and carotid artery intima-media thickness—in a subsample of participants in the Women's Interagency HIV Study. Statistical models adjusted for demographic variables, HIV serostatus, behavioral variables, and cardiovascular risk factors.

Results:

There were 244 women with and 99 without HIV infection (median age 42, 62% black). VAT mass (but not SAT) was associated with greater carotid artery stiffness in a fully adjusted linear regression model, including adjustment for SAT (β = 11.3 log 103·N·m−2 per kg VAT, 95% confidence interval: 1.0 to 21.7). Greater SAT mass was associated with lower odds of having a carotid artery lesion in a fully adjusted model, including adjustment for VAT [adjusted odds ratio, 0.49 per kg of SAT (0.25 to 0.94)]. Neither VAT nor SAT was associated with carotid artery intima-media thickness. The VAT/SAT ratio was not statistically associated with any of the outcomes after covariate adjustment.

Conclusions:

In our cross-sectional study of women, the majority of whom had HIV, greater VAT mass was associated with increased carotid artery stiffness, whereas greater SAT mass was associated with a reduced odds of prevalent carotid artery lesions.

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