Altered body composition and increased visceral adipose tissue in premenopausal and late postmenopausal patients with SLE

Li Z1Shang J2Zeng S1Wu H1Zhou Y3Xu H4.

Clin Rheumatol. 2019 Jul 30. doi: 10.1007/s10067-019-04701-3. [Epub ahead of print]





Visceral adipose tissue (VAT) is becoming a recognized cardiovascular (CV) risk factor. This study aimed to evaluate body composition, especially VAT, in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and to explore the association between VAT and SLE disease-related factors.


Ninety-eight inpatients with SLE and 108 age- and body mass index (BMI)-matched healthy controls were included. Demographic and clinical parameters were recorded. The VAT was measured by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry.


The mean age and disease duration of patients were 46.4 ± 13.0 years and 8.0 ± 7.0 years, respectively. Patients with SLE had higher VAT volume (p = 0.0015) and mass (p = 0.0017) than controls, especially in premenopausal and postmenopausal groups. The subanalysis of subjects with BMI less than 25 kg/m2 indicated that patients had lower lean mass (p = 0.0005), fat-free mass (p = 0.0005), and fat-free mass index (p = 0.0001), but increased adiposity distribution than controls, including VAT volume and mass. However, overweight/obese patients had similar body composition with controls. The VAT volume correlated with BMI, age, menopausal status, hypertension, uric acid, creatinine, non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglyceride in both groups. In the patient group, the VAT volume correlated with disease duration, Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics/American College of Rheumatology Damage Index (SLICC/ACR-DI), and low serum complement, but not with SLEDAI and glucocorticoid dose.


This study suggested that SLE patients had some traditional CV risk factors such as altered body composition and increased VAT. The higher VAT in patients with SLE was associated with traditional cardiometabolic risks, which may contribute to CV events in SLE populations.Key Points• Patients with SLE had increased VAT volume and mass than controls.• The VAT volume correlated with traditional cardiometabolic risk factors.• In SLE patient group, the VAT volume correlated with disease duration, SLICC/ACR-DI, and low serum complementC3/C4, but not with SLEDAI and glucocorticoid dose.


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