Issue: August 2013
Source: Bredella MA. Radiology. 2013;doi:10.1148/radiol.13130375.
July 16, 2013
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Ectopic, lipid levels associated with bone marrow fat in obesity

Issue: August 2013
Source: Bredella MA. Radiology. 2013;doi:10.1148/radiol.13130375.
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According to researchers, obesity was once thought to be protective against bone loss. However, a recent study examining obese patients with higher levels of fat in their liver, muscle tissue and blood suggests they also have a greater risk for bone loss or osteoporosis.

“In our study, we focused on bone marrow fat because that is where our stem cells can develop into osteoblasts — the cells responsible for cell formation — or fat cells. We also wanted to look at the relationship between bone marrow fat and other fat components, such as those in the liver and muscle,” Miriam A. Bredella, MD, from the department of radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, said in a press release.

Miriam A. Bredella, MD 

Miriam A. Bredella

To quantify the amount of fat within bone marrow, muscle and liver, the researchers used proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) in 106 men and women (mean age, 33.7 years). Of those, 88 patients were obese or overweight and 18 were considered of normal weight.

According to data, researchers found a positive correlation between bone marrow fat and intrahepatic lipids (P=.048), intramyocellular lipids (P=.02) and serum triglyceride levels (P=.001), independent of BMI, age, insulin resistance and exercise status (P<.05) in obese or overweight patients compared with normal-weight controls. Additional data indicate HDL cholesterol levels were inversely associated with bone marrow fat content, independent of BMI, age, insulin resistance and exercise status (P=.019).

These findings demonstrate a need for further studies to assess the effects of obesity on bone, researchers wrote.

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.