Femoral-gluteal subcutaneous and intermuscular adipose tissues have independent and opposing relationships with CVD risk

Jung Eun Yim, Stanley Heshka, Jeanine B. Albu, Steven Heymsfield, Dympna Gallagher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Femoral-gluteal adipose tissue (AT) may be cardioprotective through fatty acids uptake. Femoral-gluteal AT has previously been defined as leg fat measured by dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA); however, subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) and intermuscular adipose tissue (IMAT) are inseparable using DXA. This study investigated the independent relationships between femoral-gluteal SAT, femoral-gluteal IMAT, and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors [fasting serum measures of glucose, total cholesterol (TC), high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDLC), triglycerides (TG) and insulin] and whether race differences exist in femoral-gluteal AT distribution. Adult Caucasians (56 men and 104 women), African-Americans (37 men and 76 women), and Asians (11 men and 35 women) had total AT (TAT) including femoral-gluteal AT (upper leg SAT and IMAT) and visceral AT (VAT) by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). General linear models identified the independent effects of femoral-gluteal SAT and femoral-gluteal IMAT on each risk factor after covarying for TAT, VAT, age, race, sex, and two-way interactions. Femoral-gluteal IMAT and glucose (P < 0.05) were positively associated independent of VAT. There were also significant inverse associations between femoral-gluteal SAT and insulin (P < 0.01) and TG (P < 0.05), although the addition of VAT rendered these effects nonsignificant, possibly due to collinearity. Asian women had less femoral-gluteal SAT and greater VAT than Caucasians and African-Americans (P < 0.05) and Asian and African-American men had greater femoral-gluteal IMAT than Caucasians, adjusted for age and TAT (P < 0.05 for both). Femoral-gluteal SAT and femoral-gluteal IMAT distribution varies by sex and race, and these two components have independent and opposing relationships with CVD risk factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)700-707
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Body composition
  • Health risk
  • Leg fat


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