This application aims to secure funding for the purchase of a software application to be used on an existing piece of clinical equipment currently housed at HMRI.
Analysis of DEXA scans provides absolute values and percentages for total fat (adipose tissue) and importantly adipose tissue distribution, including measures of android or central adiposity. However, current DEXA apparatus and software cannot differentiate between metabolically active visceral fat and subcutaneous fat. The CoreScan application will provide us with the ability to measure visceral adipose tissue (VAT) in human subjects.
Adipose tissue (AT) normally functions as a depot for energy storage and as an hormonal signalling organ. However as AT increases in size, metabolic dysregulation occurs resulting in negative effects throughout the body. Metabolic activity of AT is determined by its distribution within the body, with visceral adipose tissue (VAT) being the most metabolically active. The VAT compartment has been described as an endocrine organ, due to its role in pro-inflammatory metabolic pathways. It is now well recognised that an increase in VAT is an independent risk factor for the development of obesity-associated comorbidities. The negative end organ effects of obesity are now recognised as a consequence of higher pro-inflammatory activity of the visceral fat depot.
Considering the rise in obesity prevalence and the known adverse effects of VAT it is imperative that research aimed at understanding body fat distribution and its clinical implications can performed. Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) is considered tone of the best methods for body composition assessment. DEXA is time-efficient, and confers low risk to subjects due to low level radiation exposure.. Until now, the primary method available for quantifying VAT was the gold standard measurement of computed tomography (CT). The high cost and level of radiation exposure however, limit the use of CT for this purpose.
Recently a new DEXA software application called CoreScan (GE Healthcare) has been developed to measure VAT volume and mass, which has since been validated using CT in several populations. This software is now commercially available as a software upgrade to existing DEXA machines. The CoreScan feature for measuring VAT can be used in newly acquired body composition scans and applied retrospectively to previously obtained scans, increasing its potential utilisation.