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A growing body of evidence has consistently shown a correlation between obesity and chronic subclinical inflammation. It is unclear whether the size of specific adipose depots is more closely associated with concentrations of inflammatory markers than overall adiposity. This study investigated the relationship between inflammatory markers and computerized tomography-derived abdominal visceral and subcutaneous fat and thigh intermuscular and subcutaneous fat in older white and black adults. Data were from 2,651 black and white men and women aged 70-79 years participating in the Health, Aging, and Body Composition (Health ABC) study. Inflammatory markers, interleukin-6 (IL-6), C-reactive protein (CRP), and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) were obtained from serum samples. Abdominal visceral and subcutaneous fat and thigh intermuscular and subcutaneous fat were quantified on computerized tomography images. Linear regression analysis was used to evaluate the cross-sectional relationship between specific adipose depots and inflammatory markers in four race/gender groups. As expected, blacks have less visceral fat than whites and women less visceral fat than men. However, abdominal visceral adiposity was most consistently associated with significantly higher IL-6 and CRP concentrations in all race/gender groups (P < 0.05), even after controlling for general adiposity. Thigh intermuscular fat had an inconsistent but significant association with inflammation, and there was a trend toward lower inflammatory marker concentration with increasing thigh subcutaneous fat in white and black women. Despite the previously established differences in abdominal fat distribution across gender and race, visceral fat remained a significant predictor of inflammatory marker concentration across all four subgroups examined.

Original publication




Journal article


Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.)

Publication Date





1062 - 1069


Laboratory of Epidemiology, Demography, and Biometry, National Institute on Aging, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.


Health ABC study, Adipose Tissue, Humans, Inflammation, Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha, C-Reactive Protein, Interleukin-6, Tomography, X-Ray Computed, Cohort Studies, Longitudinal Studies, Body Composition, Sex Characteristics, Aged, Continental Population Groups, African Continental Ancestry Group, European Continental Ancestry Group, Female, Male, Biomarkers