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Associations of epicardial fat with coronary calcification, insulin resistance, inflammation, and fibroblast growth factor-23 in stage 3-5 chronic kidney disease

Jasmine D Kerr1, Rachel M Holden12, Alexander R Morton12, Robert L Nolan23, Wilma M Hopman4, Cynthia M Pruss5 and Jocelyn S Garland126*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medicine, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, Canada

2 Queen’s University Vascular Calcification Investigators, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, Canada

3 Department of Radiology, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, Canada

4 Clinical Research Center, Kingston General Hospital, and Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

5 Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, Canada

6 Room 2043 Etherington Hall, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, K7L 3N6, Canada

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BMC Nephrology 2013, 14:26  doi:10.1186/1471-2369-14-26

Published: 26 January 2013



Epicardial fat, quantified in a single multi-slice computed tomography (MSCT) slice, is a reliable estimate of total epicardial fat volume (EFV). We sought to determine risk factors for EFV detected in a single-slice MSCT measurement (ssEFV) in pre-dialysis chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients. Our primary objective was to determine the association between ssEFV and coronary artery calcification (CAC).


94 pre-dialysis stage 3–5 CKD patients underwent MSCT to measure ssEFV and CAC. ssEFV was quantified at the level of the left main coronary artery. Measures of inflammation, traditional and kidney-related cardiovascular disease risk factors were collected.


Mean age: 63.7 ± 14 years, 56% male, 39% had diabetes, and mean eGFR: 25.1 ± 11.9 mL/min/1.73 m2. Mean ssEFV was 5.03 ± 2.4 cm3. By univariate analysis, body mass index (BMI) (r = 0.53; P = <0.0001), abdominal obesity (r = 0.51; P < 0.0001), high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (r = − 0.39; P = <0.0001), insulin resistance (log homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (log HOMA-IR)) (r = 0.38, P = 0.001), log interleukin-6 (IL-6) (r = 0.34; P = 0.001), and log urinary albumin to creatinine ratio (UACR) (r = 0.30, P = 0.004) demonstrated the strongest associations with ssEFV. Log coronary artery calcification (log CAC score) (r = 0.28, P = 0.006), and log fibroblast growth factor-23 (log FGF-23) (r = 0.23, P = 0.03) were also correlated with ssEFV. By linear regression, log CAC score (beta =0.40; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.01-0.80; P = 0.045), increasing levels of IL-6 (beta = 0.99; 95% CI, 0.38 – 1.61; P = 0.002), abdominal obesity (beta = 1.86; 95% CI, 0.94 - 2.8; P < 0.0001), lower HDL cholesterol (beta = −2.30; 95% CI, – 3.68 to −0.83; P = 0.002) and albuminuria (log UACR, beta = 0.81; 95% CI, 0.2 to 1.4; P = 0.01) were risk factors for increased ssEFV.


In stage 3–5 CKD, coronary calcification and IL-6 and were predictors of ssEFV. Further studies are needed to clarify the mechanism by which epicardial fat may contribute to the pathogenesis of coronary disease, particularly in the CKD population.

Epicardial fat; Chronic kidney disease; Coronary artery calcification; Metabolic syndrome; Interleukin-6