Impaired lung function has been linked to obesity and systemic inflammation. Pericardial fat has been shown to be associated with anomalies in cardiac structure, function, and atherosclerosis. We hypothesized that pericardial fat may have a similar role in the impairment of lung function.
Cross-sectional associations of pericardial fat volumes, quantified by multidetector CT scan, with FEV1 and FVC assessed by spirometry, were investigated in 1,293 participants (54.5 ± 10.8 years; 66.4% women) in the Jackson Heart Study. We also examined whether these associations were independent of visceral adipose tissue (VAT).
Pericardial fat was associated with impaired lung function after multivariable adjustment, but these associations generally did not remain after adjustment for VAT. An exception was the FEV1/FVC ratio. Higher pericardial fat volumes were associated with higher odds of a restrictive lung pattern and lower odds of airway obstruction. Participants in the highest quartile had the highest odds of a restrictive lung pattern (OR, 1.85; 95% CI, 1.22-2.79, compared with quartile 1), even after adjustment for VAT. The odds of obstruction decreased across increasing quartiles of pericardial fat. These relationships were generally graded, suggesting dose-response trends.
Pericardial fat is generally associated with lower lung function and independently associated with a restrictive lung pattern in middle-aged and elderly adults. Further research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms through which pericardial fat contributes to pulmonary anomalies.