Epicardial adipose tissue is related to carotid intima-media thickness and visceral adiposity in HIV-infected patients with highly active antiretroviral therapy-associated metabolic syndrome

Gianluca Iacobellis, Arya M. Sharma, Adriano M. Pellicelli, Benvenuto Grisorio, Giorgio Barbarini, Giuseppe Barbaro

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

38 Scopus citations


Background: High cardiovascular risk and accelerated atherosclerosis are associated with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Recently, the use of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) for the treatment of HIV infection is correlated with the development of HAART-associated metabolic syndrome and lipodystrophy (LDS). Detection of epicardial fat thickness, new index of visceral adiposity in non HIV-infected patients, might be important as diagnostic tool in HIV-infected patients on HAART. Objective: Primary objective of this study was to evaluate whether echocardiographic epicardial adipose tissue is related to visceral adipose tissue (VAT) and Carotid Intima-Media Thickness (IMT), index of atherosclerosis in HIV-infected patients on HAART with LDS Design: We studied 60 consecutive HIV-infected subjects with HAART-associated metabolic syndrome and LDS and 45 HIV-infected subjects on HAART without LDS. Main Outcomes Measures: Epicardial fat thickness and IMT were measured by ultrasonography in both study and control groups. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to calculate VAT in HIV-infected subjects on HAART with LDS. Results: Epicardial adipose tissue thickness showed an excellent correlation with MRI-VAT (r=0.85; P<0.001) and IMT (r=0.78; P<0.001) in HIV-infected patients on HAART-with LDS. Multiple regression analysis showed that epicardial fat thickness was best predicted by MRI-VAT and IMT (R2=0.57, P<0.001 and p<0.01, respectively). HIV-infected patients with HAART-associated metabolic syndrome and LDS showed higher epicardial fat thickness and IMT (8 vs 6.5 mm; 0.71 vs 0.66 mm, respectively, p<0.01 for both) than HIV-infected subjects on HAART without LDS. Conclusion: Echocardiographic assessment of epicardial fat may have the potential to be a simple and reliable marker of visceral adiposity and increased cardiovascular risk in HIV-infected patients with HAART-associated metabolic syndrome and LDS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-279
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent HIV research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2007
Externally publishedYes



  • Atherosclerosis
  • Cardiovascular risk
  • Epicardial adipose tissue
  • Highly active antiretroviral therapy
  • HIV
  • Metabolic syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases

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