Effect of Aerobic and Resistance Exercise on Cardiac Adipose Tissue; Secondary Analyses From a Randomized Clinical Trial

JAMA Cardiol. 2019 Jul 3. doi: 10.1001/jamacardio.2019.2074.


Epicardial and pericardial adipose tissues are emerging as important risk factors for cardiovascular disease, and there is a growing interest in discovering strategies to reduce the accumulation of fat in these depots.
To investigate whether a 12-week endurance or resistance training intervention regulates epicardial and pericardial adipose tissue mass.
Secondary analysis of a randomized, assessor-blinded clinical trial initiated on August 2016 and completed April 2018. This single-center, community-based study included 50 physically inactive participants with abdominal obesity.
Participants were randomized to a supervised high-intensity interval endurance training (3 times a week for 45 minutes), resistance training (3 times a week for 45 minutes), or no exercise (control group).
Change in epicardial and pericardial adipose tissue mass assessed by magnetic resonance imaging, based on a prespecified secondary analysis plan including 3 of 5 parallel groups.
Of 50 participants (mean [SD] age, 41 [14] years, 10 men [26%]; mean [SD] body mass index [calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared], 32 [5]), 39 [78%] completed the study. Endurance training and resistance training reduced epicardial adipose tissue mass by 32% (95% CI, 10%-53%) and 24% (95% CI, 1%-46%), respectively, compared with the no exercise control group (56% [95% CI, 24%-88%]; P = .001 and 48% [95% CI, 15%-81%]; P < .001, respectively). While there was a nonsignificant reduction in pericardial adipose tissue mass after endurance training (11% [95% CI, -5% to 27%]; P = .17), resistance training significantly reduced pericardial adipose tissue mass by 31% (95% CI, 16%-47%; P < .001) when compared with the no exercise control group. Compared with the no exercise control group, there was an increase in left ventricular mass by endurance (20 g [95% CI, 11%-30%]; P < .001) and resistance training (18 g [95% CI, 8%-28%]; P < .001). Other cardiometabolic outcomes remained unchanged after the 12-week trial period.
In individuals with abdominal obesity, both endurance and resistance training reduced epicardial adipose tissue mass, while only resistance training reduced pericardial adipose tissue mass. These data highlight the potential preventive importance of different exercise modalities as means to reduce cardiac fat in individuals with abdominal obesity.