C-reactive protein and fibrinogen are established atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease risk factors. These acute-phase proteins and the proinflammatory cytokines tumor necrosis factor α, interleukin-6, and interleukin-1β may be elevated in obesity and with menopause. The purpose of this multicenter study was to identify whether centrally located fat and/or overall adiposity were related to these inflammatory markers in healthy postmenopausal women.
We used dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry to assess overall and regional body composition (fat mass in particular) in 242 postmenopausal women in relation to plasma fibrinogen, serum C-reactive protein, and these proinflammatory cytokines.
Multiple regression analyses revealed that 36% of the variability in C-reactive protein (F = 32.4, P ≤ 0.0001) was accounted for by androidal fat mass (16.1%, P ≤ 0.0001), white blood cells (5.6%, P ≤ 0.0001), and age (2.3%, P = 0.0045). Regression analyses revealed that 30% of the variability in fibrinogen (F = 24.5, P ≤ 0.0001) was accounted for by white blood cells (3.1%, P = 0.0015), hip fat mass (2.2%, P = 0.0081), years since menopause (0.9%, P = 0.082), and geographic site (P ≤ 0.0001). Our results indicated that androidal fat mass and hip fat mass contributed to C-reactive protein and fibrinogen, respectively, whereas we found no association between whole-body or regional fat measures and cytokines.
Further study is warranted to determine the responsiveness of these acute-phase proteins and cytokines to loss of body fat through exercise and dietary intervention in postmenopausal women.