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16-05-2011 | Cardiometabolic | Article

Association between body fat and hs-CRP differs by gender


Free abstract

MedWire News: The location of body fat is significantly associated with levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), with the relationship differing by gender, report researchers.

Andreia Oliveira (University of Porto Medical School, Portugal) and colleagues found that central obesity was significantly associated with increased levels of the inflammatory marker hs-CRP in men, while a high proportion of peripheral subcutaneous fat was inversely associated with hs-CRP in women.

"Central fat appears to have more adverse effects on cardiovascular (CV) risk than the fat stored in other locations, such as the peripheral depots - arms or legs," remark Oliveira and team.

Using data for 833 women and 486 men who were randomly selected from the population of Porto in Portugal, the team assed the independent associations of general, central, and peripheral subcutaneous fat with hs-CRP.

Median measures for body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), and peripheral subcutaneous fat (PSFA) were 26.2 kg/m2, 84.0cm, 0.836, and 0.466 in women, and 25.9 kg/m2, 92.8 cm, 0.936, and 0.355 in men, respectively.

For both genders, increasing levels of hs-CRP levels were significantly associated with higher BMI, WC, and WHR.

Specifically, compared with participants in the lowest quartiles of BMI, WC, and WHR, mean levels of hs-CRP were 54%, 53%, and 41% higher among women, and 39%, 41%, and 30% higher among men in the highest quartiles, respectively.

In contrast, PSFA was negatively associated with hs-CRP levels in women; those in the highest quartile of PSFA had 22.5% lower hs-CRP levels than those in the lowest quartile.

Finally, principle component analysis revealed that in both genders, a general pattern of fat distribution (high BMI and WC) was directly associated with hs-CRP levels, while a central pattern of fat distribution (low BMI, but high WC and high WHR) was directly associated with hs-CRP in men. Further, a high proportion of peripheral fat was significantly associated with low levels of hs-CRP in women only.

Writing in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Diseases, the researchers say: "The possible role of inflammation as a link between obesity and CV disease could arise from a balance between the adverse effects of visceral and subcutaneous fat of the trunk and the protective effects conferred by a higher proportion of peripheral subcutaneous fat."

They conclude that, from a clinical and public health perspective, their findings show that the identification of individuals at high CV risk based only on WC measurements, could lead to differential misclassifications, "since WC could have different impacts on CV risk according to the peripheral accumulation of fat."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Nikki Withers