The relationship of fat and muscle measurements with emphysema and bronchial wall thickening in smokers

Stijn Bunk*, Jetty Ipema, Grigory Sidorenkov, E Bennink, Rozemarijn Vliegenthart, Pim de Jong, Esther Pompe, Jean-Paul Charbonnier, B. Luijk, Joachim Aerts, Harry Groen, Firdaus Mohamed Hoesein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

Introduction Differences in body composition in patients with COPD may have important prognostic value and may provide opportunities for patient-specific management. We investigated the relation of thoracic fat and muscle with computed tomography (CT)-measured emphysema and bronchial wall thickening. Methods Low-dose baseline chest CT scans from 1031 male lung cancer screening participants from one site were quantified for emphysema, bronchial wall thickening, subcutaneous fat, visceral fat and skeletal muscle. Body composition measurements were performed by segmenting the first slice above the aortic arch using Hounsfield unit thresholds with region growing and manual corrections. COPD presence and severity were evaluated with pre-bronchodilator spirometry testing. Results Participants had a median age of 61.5 years (58.6–65.6, 25th–75th percentile) and median number of 38.0 pack-years (28.0–49.5); 549 (53.2%) were current smokers. Overall, 396 (38.4%) had COPD (256 Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) 1, 140 GOLD 2–3). Participants with COPD had less subcutaneous fat, visceral fat and skeletal muscle (p<0.001 for all). With increasing GOLD stages, subcutaneous (p=0.005) and visceral fat values (p=0.004) were higher, and skeletal muscle was lower (p=0.004). With increasing severity of CT-derived emphysema, subcutaneous fat, visceral fat and skeletal muscle values were lower (p<0.001 for all). With increasing CT-derived bronchial wall thickness, subcutaneous and visceral fat values were higher (p<0.001 for both), without difference in skeletal muscle. All statistical relationships remained when adjusted for age, pack-years and smoking status. Conclusion COPD presence and emphysema severity are associated with smaller amounts of thoracic fat and muscle, whereas bronchial wall thickening is associated with fat accumulation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number00749-2023
Number of pages12
JournalERJ Open Research
Volume10
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2024

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