Epicardial adipose tissue (EAT) as a source of pro-inflammatory cytokines tightly linked to metabolic abnormalities. Data regarding the associations of EAT with adipocyte fatty acid-binding protein (A-FABP), a cytokine implicated in the cardiometabolic syndrome, might play an important part in mediating the association between EAT and cardiac structure/function in preserved ejection fraction heart failure (HFpEF). We conducted a prospective cohort study comprising 252 prospectively enrolled study participants classified as healthy (n = 40), high-risk (n = 161), or HFpEF (n = 51). EAT was assessed using echocardiography and compared between the three groups and related to A-FABP, cardiac structural/functional assessment utilizing myocardial deformations (strain/strain rates) and HF outcomes. EAT thickness was highest in participants with HFpEF (9.7 ± 1.7 mm) and those at high-risk (8.2 ± 1.5 mm) and lowest in healthy controls (6.4 ± 1.9 mm, p < 0.001). Higher EAT correlated with the presence of cardiometabolic syndrome, diabetes and renal insufficiency independent of BMI and waist circumference (pinteraction for all > 0.1), and was associated with reduced LV global longitudinal strain (GLS) and LV mass-independent systolic/diastolic strain rates (SRs/SRe) (all p < 0.05). Higher A-FABP levels were associated with greater EAT thickness (pinteraction > 0.1). Importantly, in the combined control cohort, A-FABP levels mediated the association between EAT and new onset HF. Excessive EAT is independently associated with the metabolic syndrome, renal insufficiency, and higher A-FABP levels. The association between EAT and new onset HF is mediated by A-FABP, suggesting a metabolic link between EAT and HF.

Keywords: adipocyte fatty acid-binding protein (A-FABP); epicardial adipose tissue (EAT); heart failure (HF); metabolic syndrome; preserved ejection fraction heart failure (HFpEF); pro-inflammatory cytokines; strain; strain rate.

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Copyright: © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/ 4.0/).

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