Adipose tissue in muscle: a novel depot similar in size to visceral adipose tissue

Dympna Gallagher, Patrick Kuznia, Stanley Heshka, Jeanine Albu, Steven B Heymsfield, Bret H Goodpaster, Marjolein Visser, Tamara B Harris

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: The manner in which fat depot volumes and distributions, particularly the adipose tissue (AT) between the muscles, vary by race is unknown.

OBJECTIVE: The objective was to quantify a previously unstudied and novel intermuscular AT (IMAT) depot and subcutaneous AT, visceral AT (VAT), and total-body skeletal muscle mass in healthy sedentary African American (AA), Asian, and white adults by whole-body magnetic resonance imaging. IMAT is the AT between muscles and within the boundary of the muscle fascia.

DESIGN: Analyses were conducted on 227 women [AA (n = 79): body mass index (BMI; in kg/m(2)), 29.0 +/- 5.5; age, 45.7 +/- 16.9 y; Asian (n = 38): BMI, 21.7 +/- 2.9; age, 47.2 +/- 19.9 y; whites (n = 110): BMI, 24.9 +/- 5.4; age, 43.7 +/- 16.2 y]) and 111 men [AA (n = 39): BMI, 25.6 +/- 3.2; age, 45.5 +/- 18.8 y; Asian (n = 13): BMI, 24.9 +/- 2.5; age, 45.6 +/- 25.0 y; white (n = 59): BMI, 25.8 +/- 3.8; age 44.5 +/- 16.3 y].

RESULTS: IMAT depots were not significantly different in size between race groups at low levels of adiposity; however, with increasing adiposity, AAs had a significantly greater increment in the proportion of total AT (TAT) than did the whites and Asians (58, 46, and 44 g IMAT/kg TAT, respectively; P = 0.001). VAT depots were not significantly different in size at low levels of adiposity but, with increasing adiposity, VAT accumulation was greater than IMAT accumulation in the Asians and whites; no significant differences were observed in AAs.

CONCLUSION: Race differences in AT distribution extend to IMAT, a depot that may influence race-ethnicity differences in dysglycemia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)903-10
Number of pages8
JournalThe American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2005


  • Adipose Tissue
  • Adult
  • African Continental Ancestry Group
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging
  • Asian Americans
  • Body Composition
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.


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