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Stronger relationship between central adiposity and C-reactive protein in older women than men

Valentine, Rudy J. MS; Vieira, Victoria J. MS; Woods, Jeffrey A. PhD; Evans, Ellen M. PhD

doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e31817fcb8f

Objective: Cardiorespiratory fitness and obesity, especially central adiposity, have consistently been associated with circulating C-reactive protein (CRP), particularly in aging women. The purpose of this study was to determine the sex-specific independent relationships between physical activity, fitness, central and whole body adiposity, and CRP in sedentary older adults.

Design: Cross-sectional study on sedentary, healthy, community-dwelling older adults (age, mean ± SD; 70.0 ± 5.4 years; N = 132, 47 men, 85 women). Physical activity was determined using a questionnaire, fitness using a maximal oxygen consumption treadmill test (V(dot)O2peak), and body composition via dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry.

Results: CRP tended to be higher in women than men (4.0 ± 2.9 vs 3.1 ± 2.3 mg/L, P = 0.07). All measures of adiposity (absolute, relative [%fat], and trunk) were positively associated with CRP in women (r range = 0.22-0.28, all P < 0.05), whereas neither physical activity nor fitness was related. In contrast, %fat was the only measure of adiposity associated with CRP in men (r = 0.36, P = 0.01) and V(dot)O2peak was inversely correlated with CRP (r = −0.31, P = 0.04). Trunk fat was the only independent predictor of CRP in women, explaining 8% of the variance (P = 0.01), whereas %fat (P = 0.01) and anti-inflammatory medication use (P = 0.02) were independent predictors of CRP in men, explaining 13% and 10% of the variance, respectively.

Conclusions: In sedentary, healthy older adults, the relationship between regional body fatness, aerobic fitness, and CRP differs between sexes such that (1) central adiposity was most strongly associated with CRP in women, whereas %fat was the strongest predictor of systemic inflammation in men and (2) the negative association between fitness and CRP was stronger in men.

This study shows that in healthy older adults the relation between regional body fat, aerobic fitness and CRP differs between sexes, with central adiposity being the only independent predictor of CRP in women.

From the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL.

Received February 25, 2008; revised and accepted May 14, 2008.

Funding/Support: This research was supported by National Institutes of Health grant AG-18861 to J.A. Woods.

Financial disclosure: None reported.

Address correspondence to: Ellen M. Evans, PhD, Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, University of Illinois, 215 Freer Hall, MC-052, 906 S. Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801. E-mail: Reprints are not available.

©2009The North American Menopause Society