Association Between Visceral Fat and Brain Cortical Thickness in the Elderly: A Neuroimaging Study

Jaelim Cho, Seongho Seo, Woo Ram Kim, Changsoo Kim, Young Noh

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Despite emerging evidence suggesting that visceral fat may play a major role in obesity-induced neurodegeneration, little evidence exists on the association between visceral fat and brain cortical thickness in the elderly. Purpose: We aimed to examine the association between abdominal fat and brain cortical thickness in a Korean elderly population. Methods: This cross-sectional study included elderly individuals without dementia (n = 316). Areas of visceral fat and subcutaneous fat (cm2) were estimated from computed tomography scans. Regional cortical thicknesses (mm) were obtained by analyzing brain magnetic resonance images. Given the inverted U-shaped relationship between visceral fat area and global cortical thickness (examined using a generalized additive model), visceral fat area was categorized into quintiles, with the middle quintile being the reference group. A generalized linear model was built to explore brain regions associated with visceral fat. The same approach was used for subcutaneous fat. Results: The mean (standard deviation) age was 67.6 (5.0) years. The highest quintile (vs. the middle quintile) group of visceral fat area had reduced cortical thicknesses in the global [β = –0.04 mm, standard error (SE) = 0.02 mm, p = 0.004], parietal (β = –0.04 mm, SE = 0.02 mm, p = 0.01), temporal (β = –0.05 mm, SE = 0.02 mm, p = 0.002), cingulate (β = –0.06 mm, SE = 0.02 mm, p = 0.01), and insula lobes (β = –0.06 mm, SE = 0.03 mm, p = 0.02). None of the regional cortical thicknesses significantly differed between the highest and the middle quintile groups of subcutaneous fat area. Conclusion: The findings suggest that a high level of visceral fat, but not subcutaneous fat, is associated with a reduced cortical thickness in the elderly.

Original languageEnglish
Article number694629
JournalFrontiers in Aging Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jun 23

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by grants from the Korea Health Technology R&D Project through the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI), funded by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, South Korea (Grant Nos. HI18C1629 and HI14C1135); Brain Research Program of the National Research Foundation (NRF) funded by the Korean Government (MSIT) (Grant No. 2018M3C7A1056889); and Research Program funded by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020-ER6706-00).

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright © 2021 Cho, Seo, Kim, Kim and Noh.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ageing
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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