Association of thigh and paraspinal muscle composition in young adults using chemical shift encoding-based water–fat MRI

Egon Burian, Stephanie Inhuber, Sarah Schlaeger, Michael Dieckmeyer, Elisabeth Klupp, Daniela Franz, Dominik Weidlich, Nico Sollmann, Maximilian Löffler, Ansgar Schwirtz, Ernst J. Rummeny, Claus Zimmer, Jan S. Kirschke, Dimitrios C. Karampinos, Thomas Baum

Abstract

Background: Paraspinal and thigh muscles comprise the major muscle groups of the body. We investigated the composition of the psoas, erector spinae, quadriceps femoris and hamstring muscle groups and their association to each other using chemical shift encoding-based water–fat magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in adult volunteers. Our aim was to elucidate fat distribution patterns within these muscle groups.
Methods: Thirty volunteers [15 males, age: 30.5±4.9 years, body mass index (BMI): 27.6±2.8 kg/m2 and 15 females, age: 29.9±7.0 years, BMI: 25.8±1.4 kg/m2] were recruited for this study. A six-echo 3D spoiled gradient echo sequence was used for chemical shift encoding-based water–fat separation at the lumbar spine and bilateral thigh. Proton density fat fraction (PDFF), cross-sectional area (CSA) and contractile mass index (CMI) of the psoas, erector spinae, quadriceps femoris and hamstring muscle groups were determined bilaterally and averaged over both sides.
Results: CSA and CMI values calculated for the erector spinae, psoas, quadriceps and hamstring muscle groups showed significant differences between men and women (P<0.05). With regard to PDFF measurement only the erector spinae showed significant differences between men and women (9.5%±2.4% vs. 11.7%±2.8%, P=0.015). The CMI of the psoas muscle as well as the erector spinae muscle showed significant correlations with the quadriceps muscle (r=0.691, P<0.0001 and r=0.761, P<0.0001) and the hamstring group (r=0.588, P=0.001 and r=0.603, P<0.0001).
Conclusions: CMI values of the erector spinae and psoas muscles were associated with those of the quadriceps femoris and hamstring musculature. These findings suggest a concordant spatial fat accumulation within the analyzed muscles in young adults and warrants further investigations in ageing and diseased muscle.