• men;
  • atherosclerosis;
  • lean body mass;
  • truncal fat mass;
  • adipocytokines


Objective: To investigate associations among body composition, cardiovascular risk factors, and atherosclerosis in middle-aged and elderly men for the identification of potential pathogenic links.

Research Methods and Procedures: The study included 168 white men 44 to 86 years old. Severity of aortic calcification (AC) was graded on lateral radiographs, and body fat and lean mass were measured by DXA. Information on demographic and lifestyle characteristics also was gathered.

Results: A strong and independent inverse association was found between AC and peripheral lean mass (PLM), even after adjusting for age and BMI (p < 0.05). Independently of the influence of PLM, AC was directly correlated with truncal fat mass (p < 0.05). Furthermore, AC was inversely associated with tertiles of the free androgen index (p < 0.05). In a multiple regression model, age and serum cholesterol (p < 0.01) contributed directly, and truncal fat mass tended also to contribute directly (p = 0.09), whereas PLM contributed borderline inversely (p = 0.06) to the variation of AC (R = 0.635, p < 0.0001).

Discussion: Severity of AC is strongly dependent on age and further modulated by an array of traditional cardiovascular risk factors. Sarcopenia and truncal fat mass are reciprocal correlates of atherosclerosis of borderline statistical significance in multivariate models. To clarify whether sarcopenia is an atherogenic risk factor or rather a parallel consequence of low-grade inflammation also promoting atherogenic trends, further longitudinal studies in larger sample sizes of men and women are needed.