Epicardial adipose tissue and cardiovascular risk assessment in ultra-Marathon runners: A pilot study

Michał Konwerski, Marek Postuła, Marzena Barczuk-Falęcka, Anna Czajkowska, Anna Mróz, Katarzyna Witek, Wawrzyniec Bakalarski, Aleksandra Gasecka, Łukasz A. Małek, Tomasz Mazurek

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Epicardial adipose tissue (EAT) volume is associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD). Data regarding the influence of extremely intensive training on CVD are scarce. We compared EAT volume among ultra-marathon runners and in the sedentary control group, and assessed the corre-lations between EAT and risk factors of coronary artery disease (CAD). EAT volume around three main coronary vessels and right ventricle (RV) was measured in 30 healthy amateur ultrarunners and 9 sex-and age-matched sedentary controls using cardiac magnetic resonance. In addition, body composition, lipid profile, interleukin-6 (IL-6) plasma concentration, and intima-media thickness (IMT) were measured as well. The EAT volume was lower in all measured locations in the ultra-runners’ group compared to control group (p < 0.001 for all). Ultrarunners had lower BMI and fat percentage (FAT%) and more favorable lipid profile compared to the control group (p < 0.05 for all). Ultrarunners had lower rate of pathologically high levels of plasma IL-6 (>1 pg/mL) compared to the control group (17% vs. 56%, p < 0.05). IMT was similar in both groups. In the ultrarunners’ group, there was a positive correlation between EAT surrounding left anterior descending artery, circumflex artery, and RV and FAT%, and between EAT around circumflex artery and LDL and non-HDL cholesterol (p < 0.05 for all). In summary, extremely intensive training may decrease the risk of cardiovascular events in adult population of amateur athletes by reducing the amount and pro-inflammatory activity of EAT. However, more research is needed to draw firm conclusions regarding the anti-and pro-inflammatory effects of intensive training.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3136
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2021


  • Cardiac magnetic resonance
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Epicardial adipose tissue
  • Inflammation
  • Ultrarunners

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