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Objective: Perivascular fat may have a local adverse effect on the vasculature. We evaluated whether thoracic periaortic adipose tissue (TAT), a type of perivascular fat, and visceral adipose tissue (VAT) were associated with vascular function.

Design and Methods

TAT and VAT were quantified in Framingham Heart Study participants using multidetector-computed tomography; vascular function was assessed using brachial artery vasodilator function, peripheral arterial tone, and arterial tonometry (n = 2,735; 48% women; mean age, 50 years; mean body mass index [BMI], 27.7 kg/m2). Using multiple linear regression, the relationships between TAT, VAT, and vascular measures was examined while adjusting for cardiovascular risk factors.

Results

Mean TAT and VAT volumes were 13.2 and 1763 cm3. TAT and VAT were associated with multiple vascular function measures after multivariable adjustment. After BMI adjustment, TAT and VAT remained negatively associated with peripheral arterial tone and inverse carotid femoral pulse wave velocity (P < 0.02); TAT was negatively associated with hyperemic mean flow velocity (P = 0.03). Associations of TAT with vascular function were attenuated after VAT adjustment (all P > 0.06).

Conclusions

Thoracic periaortic and visceral fat are associated with microvascular function and large artery stiffness after BMI adjustment. These findings support the growing recognition of associations between ectopic fat and vascular function.