Extracellular water (ECW) is a large and clinically important body compartment that varies widely in volume both in health and disease. Interpretation of ECW measurements in the clinical setting requires consideration of potential influencing factors such as age, race, sex and other variables that influence fluid status. An important gap in physiological research is a lack of normative ECW values against which to reference perturbations in fluid homeostasis. The current study's aim was to develop conditional quantile equations for ECW based on weight, height, age, sex and race using a large (n = 1538, 854 females and 684 males) healthy adult multi-ethnic (African American, Asian, European American, Hispanic) sample. ECW was derived from total body water and potassium measured by isotope dilution and whole-body 40K counting, respectively. Quantile regression methods were used to identify five percentile levels (10th, 25th, 50th, 75th, 90th). Weight and height were significant variables at each quantile in both males and females; age made a significant contribution in the male but not the female sample. These regression equations provide ECW quantile reference values based on a large multi-ethnic adult population that should not only prove useful in clinical settings and physiological research, but serve as a model approach for developing body composition normative ranges.
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