Objectives Increasing evidence suggests a role for epicardial fat in the development of coronary artery disease in the general population. Heart transplantation patients are at increased risk of developing a specific form of coronary artery disease, cardiac allograft vasculopathy (CAV), which has far-reaching consequences in terms of morbidity and mortality. Until now, the role of epicardial fat volume (EFV) in the development of CAV remains unknown. Hence, we investigated the relationship between EFV and CAV as well as the influence of donor/recipient sex on EFV.
Methods Adult heart transplant patients who underwent coronary computed tomography angiography (CCTA) for CAV screening who were four or more years post-HT were included. Using the CT examinations, we quantified the EFV and the degree of CAV. Ordinal and linear regression models were used to assess the association of EFV with CAV.
Results In total, 149 (median age 44.5 years, 36% women) patients were included. The median time between HT and the CT scan was 11.0 (7.3-16.1) years. CAV grade 0, 1, 2 and 3 were seen in 85 (57%), 32 (22%), 14 (9%), and 18 (12%) patients, respectively. The median EFV was 208.4 (128.9-276.0) mL. Larger EFV were related to higher degrees of CAV (median of 164.7 to 290.6 mL for CAV grade 0 and 3, respectively, OR 5.23 (2.47-11.06), p < 0.001). Male recipients had significantly more EFV than female recipients irrespective ofthe donor sex (232.7 mL vs. 147.2 mL respectively,p < 0.001). Determinants for EFV were recipient sex, number of rejections, donor age, time between HT and CT scan, recipient BMI, and diabetes mellitus.
Conclusions EFV was associated with higher degrees of CAV. The recipient sex influenced the EFV more than the donor sex.