What is it about?

Disordered eating with caloric excess (obesity) or caloric restriction (anorexia nervosa) is associated with detriments to metabolic and bone health. Both excess and restricted calories are marked by an increased bone fat, but such accrual has variable effects on bone quantity and response to exercise. In this study, we show that obesity increases a fat depot in the bone, and this depot behaves much like abdominal and other fat depots. Exercise is able to reduce the size of this fat depot and burn it for fuel and at the same time build stronger, larger bones.

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Why is it important?

Bone marrow fat is thought to be important to bone health because it is increased in states of bone fragility, such as osteoporosis. However, ​the physiologic purpose of bone fat and its regulation are poorly understood. An improved understanding of the function of bone marrow fat will enable the development of future therapies to improve bone health.


One of the main clinical implications of this research is that exercise is not just good, but remarkable for the bones. In a short period of time, we noted that running was building bone significantly in mice. This exercise-induced bone formation occurred simultaneous with a decrease in marrow adipocyte size and number as well as increased markers of oxidation, suggesting that marrow fat provides energy. With obesity, the exercise-induced bone formation is greater than that in lean mice. Biomechanical testing shows that the quality and the strength of the bone is increased with exercise,​ even more so in the obese exercisers

Dr Maya Styner
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Exercise Decreases Marrow Adipose Tissue Through ß-Oxidation in Obese Running Mice, Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, May 2017, Wiley, DOI: 10.1002/jbmr.3159.
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