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EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-318233


Background: Clarification of the risk factors for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) severity is strongly warranted for global health. Recent studies have indicated that elevated body mass index (BMI) is associated with unfavorable progression of COVID-19. This is assumed to be due to excessive deposition of visceral adipose tissue (VAT);however, the evidence investigating the association between intra-abdominal fat and COVID-19 prognosis is sparse. We therefore investigated whether measuring the amount of intra-abdominal fat is useful to predict the prognosis of COVID-19. Methods The present study enrolled 53 consecutive cases of COVID-19 patients aged ≥ 20 years with chest computed tomography (CT) scans. The VAT area, total adipose tissue (TAT) area, and VAT/TAT ratio were estimated using axial CT images at the level of the upper pole of the right kidney. Severe COVID-19 was defined as death or acute respiratory failure demanding oxygen at ≥ 6 liters per minute, a high-flow nasal cannula, or mechanical ventilation. The association of VAT/TAT with the incidence of progression to a severe state was estimated as a hazard ratio (HR) using Cox regression analysis. To compare the prediction ability for COVID-19 disease progression between BMI and VAT/TAT, the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) of each was assessed. Results A total of 15 cases (28.3% of the whole study subjects) progressed to severe stages. The incidence of developing severe COVID-19 increased significantly with VAT/TAT (HR per 1% increase = 1.040 (95% CI 1.008–1.074), P  = 0.01). After adjustment for potential confounders, the positive association of VAT/TAT with COVID-19 aggravation remained significant (multivariable-adjusted HR = 1.055 (95% CI 1.000–1.112) per 1% increase, P  = 0.049). The predictive ability of VAT/TAT for COVID-19 becoming severe was significantly better than that of BMI (AUC of 0.73 for VAT/TAT and 0.50 for BMI;P  = 0.0495 for the difference). Conclusions A higher ratio of VAT/TAT was an independent risk factor for disease progression among COVID-19 patients. VAT/TAT was superior to BMI in predicting COVID-19 morbidity. COVID-19 patients with high VAT/TAT levels should be carefully observed as high-risk individuals for morbidity and mortality.