Adipose tissue distribution from body MRI is associated with cross-sectional and longitudinal brain age in adults
Ann-Marie G de Lange,
Ivan I. Maximov,
Mads L. Pedersen,
Olof Dahlqvist Leinhard,
kristine moe ulrichsen,
Erlend Solberg Dorum,
Knut K. Kolskar,
Anne Marthe Sanders,
Tiril P Gurholt,
Nils E. Steen,
Jan Egil Nordvik,
Ole A Andreassen,
Lars T. Westlye
Posted 15 Apr 2021
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.04.08.21255106
Posted 15 Apr 2021
There is an intimate body-brain connection in ageing, and obesity is a key risk factor for poor cardiometabolic health and neurodegenerative conditions. Although research has demonstrated deleterious effects of obesity on brain structure and function, the majority of studies have used conventional measures such as waist-to-hip ratio, waist circumference, and body mass index. While sensitive to gross features of body composition, such global anthropomorphic features fail to describe regional differences in body fat distribution and composition, and to determine visceral adiposity, which is related to a range of metabolic conditions. In this mixed cross-sectional and longitudinal design (interval mean = 19.7, standard deviation = 0.5 months), including 790 healthy individuals (mean (range) age = 46.7 (18-94) years, 53% women), we investigated cross-sectional body magnetic resonance imaging (MRI, n = 286) measures of adipose tissue distribution in relation to longitudinal brain structure using MRI-based morphometry and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). We estimated tissue-specific brain age at two time points and performed Bayesian multilevel modelling to investigate the associations between adipose measures at follow-up and brain age gap (BAG) at baseline and follow-up. We also tested for interactions between BAG and both time and age on each adipose measure. The results showed credible associations between T1-based BAG and liver fat, muscle fat infiltration (MFI), and weight-to-muscle ratio (WMR), indicating older-appearing brains in people with higher measures of adipose tissue. Longitudinal evidence supported interaction effects between time and MFI and WMR on T1-based BAG, indicating accelerated ageing over the course of the study period in people with higher measures of adipose tissue. The results show that specific measures of fat distribution are associated with brain ageing and that different compartments of adipose tissue may be differentially linked with increased brain ageing, with potential to identify key processes involved in age-related transdiagnostic disease processes.
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