The Concept of CMR
Intra-abdominal Adipose Tissue: the Culprit?
A Marker of Ectopic Fat Deposition?
Individuals vary in terms of how they store fat in response to a positive energy balance. However, the factors underpinning these differences are poorly understood. Excess intra-abdominal (visceral) fat may be a marker of the inability of subcutaneous adipose tissue to act as an ‘energy sink’ for surplus calories resulting from excess energy intake and/or reduced energy expenditure. The inability of subcutaneous fat to store excess energy may cause fat to accumulate at undesirable locations such as the liver, skeletal muscle, heart, and even in pancreatic beta cells. This phenomenon has been described as ectopic fat deposition. In this regard, many of the metabolic complications found in individuals with excess intra-abdominal fat have also been found in those with a fatty liver and ectopic fat. Although liver fat has been frequently linked to excess intra-abdominal fat, several studies have shown that liver fat and intra-abdominal fat each contribute independently to the metabolic complications of abdominal obesity.