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1.  Periaortic Fat and Cardiovascular Risk: A Comparison of High-Risk Older Adults and Age-Matched Healthy Controls 
Objective
Fat accumulation around the heart and aorta may impact cardiovascular (CV) health. The purpose of this study was to conduct a systematic investigation to examine potential associations of these fat depots with risk factors for CV events, which has not been done before.
Methods
Pericardial fat, periaortic fat around the ascending aorta (AA), descending aorta (DA) and aortic arch, and abdominal subcutaneous and visceral fat were measured by MRI in older adults with (n=385, 69±8 years, 52% female) and without (n=50, 69±8 years, 58% female) risk factors for a CV event.
Results
Individuals with CV risk factors exhibited greater fat volumes across all fat depots compared to those without risk factors. In analysis of covariance accounting for age, gender, race/ethnicity, diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease, smoking, and BMI, individuals with risk factors possessed higher epicardial, pericardial, AA, DA, and abdominal visceral fat (p<0.05). When matched one-to-one on age, gender, race/ethnicity, and BMI, AA and DA fat were higher in those with versus without CV risk factors (p<0.01).
Conclusions
Older adults with a high risk for CV events have greater periaortic fat than low-risk adults, even after accounting for BMI. More studies are needed to determine whether greater periaortic fat predicts future CV events.
doi:10.1038/ijo.2014.29
PMCID: PMC4143481  PMID: 24525960
pericardial fat; periaortic fat; aging; cardiovascular risk
2.  Plasma Oxidized Low-density Lipoprotein Levels and Arterial Stiffness in Older Adults: the Health ABC Study 
Hypertension  2009;53(5):846-852.
Arterial stiffness is a prominent feature of vascular aging and is strongly related to cardiovascular disease (CVD). Oxidized low-density lipoprotein (ox-LDL), a key player in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis, may also play a role in arterial stiffening, but this relationship has not been well studied. Thus, we examined the cross-sectional association between ox-LDL and aortic pulse wave velocity (aPWV), a marker of arterial stiffness, in community-dwelling older adults. Plasma ox-LDL levels and aPWV were measured in 2,295 participants (mean age, 74 yrs; 52% female; 40% black) from the Health, Aging and Body Composition study. Mean aPWV significantly increased across tertiles of ox-LDL (tertile 1, 869 ± 376 cm/s; tertile 2, 901 ± 394 cm/s; tertile 3, 938 ± 415 cm/s; p=0.002). In multivariate analyses, ox-LDL remained associated with aPWV after adjustment for demographics and traditional CVD risk factors (p=0.008). After further adjustment for hemoglobin A1c, abdominal visceral fat, anti-hypertensive and antilipemic medications, and CRP the association with ox-LDL was attenuated, but remained significant (p=0.01). Results were similar when ox-LDL was expressed in absolute (mg/dL) or relative amounts (percent of LDL). Moreover, individuals in the highest ox-LDL tertile were 30-55% more likely to have high arterial stiffness, defined as aPWV > 75th percentile (p≤0.02). In conclusion, we found that among elderly persons, elevated plasma ox-LDL levels are associated with higher arterial stiffness, independent of CVD risk factors. These data suggest that ox-LDL may be related to the pathogenesis of arterial stiffness.
doi:10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.108.127043
PMCID: PMC2692957  PMID: 19332658
aging; epidemiology; aortic stiffness; pulse wave velocity; oxidative stress
3.  Chronic Inflammation Is Associated With Low Physical Function in Older Adults Across Multiple Comorbidities 
Background
Chronic subclinical inflammation may contribute to impaired physical function in older adults; however, more data are needed to determine whether inflammation is a common mechanism for functional decline, independent of disease or health status.
Methods
We examined associations between physical function and inflammatory biomarkers in 542 older men and women enrolled in four clinical studies at Wake Forest University between 2001 and 2006. All participants were at least 55 years and had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure, high cardiovascular risk, or self-reported physical disability. Uniform clinical assessments were used across studies, including grip strength; a Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB; includes balance, 4-m walk, and repeated chair stands); inflammatory biomarker assays for interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), and C-reactive protein (CRP); and anthropometric measures.
Results
Higher levels of CRP and IL-6, but not TNF-α, were associated with lower grip strength and SPPB scores and longer times to complete the 4-m walk and repeated chair stands tests, independent of age, gender, and race. More importantly, these relationships were generally independent of disease status. Further adjustment for fat mass, lean mass, or percent body fat altered some of these relationships but did not significantly change the overall results.
Conclusions
Elevated CRP and IL-6 levels are associated with poorer physical function in older adults with various comorbidities, as assessed by a common battery of clinical assessments. Chronic subclinical inflammation may be a marker of functional limitations in older persons across several diseases/health conditions.
doi:10.1093/gerona/gln038
PMCID: PMC2657165  PMID: 19196644
Inflammation; Physical function; Aging; Comorbidities
4.  Total and Abdominal Adiposity Are Associated With Inflammation in Older Adults Using a Factor Analysis Approach 
Background.
Obesity-related increases in multiple inflammatory markers may contribute to the persistent subclinical inflammation common with advancing age. However, it is unclear if a specific combination of markers reflects the underlying inflammatory state. We used factor analysis to identify inflammatory factor(s) and examine their associations with adiposity in older adults at risk for disability.
Methods.
Adiponectin, CRP, IL-1ra, IL-1sRII, IL-2sRα, IL-6, IL-6sR, IL-8, IL-15, sTNFRI, sTNFRII, and TNF-α were measured in 179 participants from the Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders Pilot (Mean ± SD age 77 ± 4 years, 76% white, 70% women). Body mass index, waist circumference, and total fat mass were assessed by anthropometry and dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry.
Results.
IL-2sRα, sTNFRI, and sTNFRII loaded highest on the first factor (factor 1). CRP, IL-1ra, and IL-6 loaded highest on the second factor (factor 2). Factor 2, but not factor 1, was positively associated with 1-SD increments in waist circumference (β = 0.160 ± 0.057, p = .005), body mass index (β = 0.132 ± 0.053, p = .01), and total fat mass (β = 0.126 ± 0.053, p = .02) after adjusting for age, gender, race/ethnicity, site, smoking, anti-inflammatory medications, comorbidity index, health-related quality of life, and physical function. These associations remained significant after further adjustment for grip strength, but only waist circumference remained associated with inflammation after adjusting for total lean mass. There were no significant interactions between adiposity and muscle mass or strength for either factor.
Conclusions.
Greater total and abdominal adiposity are associated with higher levels of an inflammatory factor related to CRP, IL-1ra, and IL-6 in older adults, which may provide a clinically useful measure of inflammation in this population.
doi:10.1093/gerona/gls077
PMCID: PMC3437966  PMID: 22451470
Aging; Adiposity; Inflammation; Muscle impairment; Factor analysis

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