Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Medical Imaging and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

Semi-automated segmentation and quantification of adipose tissue in calf and thigh by MRI: a preliminary study in patients with monogenic metabolic syndrome

Salam A Al-Attar1, Rebecca L Pollex1, John F Robinson1, Brooke A Miskie1, Rhonda Walcarius2, Brian K Rutt2 and Robert A Hegele13*

Author affiliations

1 Vascular Biology Research Group, Robarts Research Institute, London, Ontario, Canada

2 Imaging Research Laboratories, Robarts Research Institute, London, Ontario, Canada

3 Department of Medicine, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada

For all author emails, please log on.

Citation and License

BMC Medical Imaging 2006, 6:11  doi:10.1186/1471-2342-6-11

Published: 31 August 2006

Abstract

Background

With the growing prevalence of obesity and metabolic syndrome, reliable quantitative imaging methods for adipose tissue are required. Monogenic forms of the metabolic syndrome include Dunnigan-variety familial partial lipodystrophy subtypes 2 and 3 (FPLD2 and FPLD3), which are characterized by the loss of subcutaneous fat in the extremities. Through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of FPLD patients, we have developed a method of quantifying the core FPLD anthropometric phenotype, namely adipose tissue in the mid-calf and mid-thigh regions.

Methods

Four female subjects, including an FPLD2 subject (LMNA R482Q), an FPLD3 subject (PPARG F388L), and two control subjects were selected for MRI and analysis. MRI scans of subjects were performed on a 1.5T GE MR Medical system, with 17 transaxial slices comprising a 51 mm section obtained in both the mid-calf and mid-thigh regions. Using ImageJ 1.34 n software, analysis of raw MR images involved the creation of a connectedness map of the subcutaneous adipose tissue contours within the lower limb segment from a user-defined seed point. Quantification of the adipose tissue was then obtained after thresholding the connected map and counting the voxels (volumetric pixels) present within the specified region.

Results

MR images revealed significant differences in the amounts of subcutaneous adipose tissue in lower limb segments of FPLD3 and FPLD2 subjects: respectively, mid-calf, 15.5% and 0%, and mid-thigh, 25.0% and 13.3%. In comparison, old and young healthy controls had values, respectively, of mid-calf, 32.5% and 26.2%, and mid-thigh, 52.2% and 36.1%. The FPLD2 patient had significantly reduced subcutaneous adipose tissue compared to FPLD3 patient.

Conclusion

Thus, semi-automated quantification of adipose tissue of the lower extremity can detect differences between individuals of various lipodystrophy genotypes and represents a potentially useful tool for extended quantitative phenotypic analysis of other genetic metabolic disorders.