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Title: Abdominal fat distribution and its relationship to brain changes: the differential effects of age on cerebellar structure and function: a cross-sectional, exploratory study.
Authors: Raschpichler, M.
Straatman, Kees
Schroeter, M.L.
Arelin, K.
Schlögl, H.
Fritzsch, D.
Mende, M.
Pampel, A.
Böttcher, Y.
Stumvoll, M.
Villringer, A.
Mueller, K.
First Published: 24-Jan-2013
Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group Ltd
Citation: BMJ Open, 2013, 3 : e001915
Abstract: Objectives: To investigate whether the metabolically important visceral adipose tissue (VAT) relates differently to structural and functional brain changes in comparison with body weight measured as body mass index (BMI). Moreover, we aimed to investigate whether these effects change with age. Design: Cross-sectional, exploratory. Setting: University Clinic, Integrative Research and Treatment Centre. Participants: We included 100 (mean BMI=26.0 kg/m², 42 women) out of 202 volunteers randomly invited by the city's registration office, subdivided into two age groups: young-to-mid-age (n=51, 20–45 years of age, mean BMI=24.9, 24 women) versus old (n=49, 65–70 years of age, mean BMI=27.0, 18 women). Main outcome measures: VAT, BMI, subcutaneous abdominal adipose tissue, brain structure (grey matter density), functional brain architecture (eigenvector centrality, EC). Results: We discovered a loss of cerebellar structure with increasing VAT in the younger participants, most significantly in regions involved in motor processing. This negative correlation disappeared in the elderly. Investigating functional brain architecture showed again inverse VAT–cerebellum correlations, whereas now regions involved in cognitive and emotional processing were significant. Although we detected similar results for EC using BMI, significant age interaction for both brain structure and functional architecture was only found using VAT. Conclusions: Visceral adiposity is associated with cerebellar changes of both structure and function, whereas the regions involved contribute to motor, cognitive and emotional processes. Furthermore, these associations seem to be age dependent, with younger adults’ brains being adversely affected.
DOI Link: 10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001915
eISSN: 2044-6055
Version: Publisher Version
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © 2013 The authors. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License (
Description: PMCID: PMC3563141
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, College of Medicine, Biological Sciences and Psychology

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