5 Surprising Reasons Why Bone Marrow is Bursting with Fat

Fat in bone marrow is crucial for bone health, metabolism, obesity effects, aging implications, and potential bone marrow disorder impacts.

Demonstarion of extrusion of a bone marrow sample from hip bone

Did you know the seemingly stiff human skeleton is full of fat cells? Our bones are not merely inert; they’re vibrant, containing essential bone marrow. This marrow, especially in long bones such as the femur, tibia, and humerus, is laden with adipose tissue, or fat. Let’s uncover the intriguing reasons for fat residing in our bone marrow.

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, this site earns from qualifying purchases. Thank you!

1. Role in Bone Health

Digital composite of Highlighted back bones of jogging woman on beach

One of the most significant roles of fat within the bone marrow involves maintaining skeletal health. The bone marrow adipose tissue (BMAT) isn’t merely an energy reservoir; it plays vital immune, paracrine, and endocrine roles. Recent research has illuminated that marrow adipocytes and osteoblasts (cells that synthesize bones) originate from the same skeletal stem cell. This discovery suggests that a preferential shift towards the adipocyte lineage may contribute to bone loss with aging.

Moreover, prolonged use of anabolics, which enhance bone formation, can paradoxically increase overall bone turnover rates. This occurs by activating mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and osteoblasts to release pro-osteoclastogenic signaling molecules, stimulating bone resorption when used over extended periods. Thus, strategies promoting osteoblastogenic over adipogenic MSC differentiation could provide novel therapeutic avenues for maintaining bone health.

Interestingly, recent preclinical studies support these propositions, suggesting potential novel therapeutic interventions that could promote bone regeneration in individuals with osteoporosis. In conclusion, clinical literature extensively supports the association between bone marrow adipose tissue and bone loss attributed to aging, menopause, and certain drugs.

2. Metabolic Activity

Bone research concept bone cancer and stem cells treatment Osteoporosis Bone marrow bone problems diseases 3D rendering

The fat cells within the marrow, known as marrow adipocytes, are not merely passive holders of lipids. They are metabolically active, contributing significantly to the body’s overall metabolic activity. These cells influence hematopoiesis, the process by which new blood cells are produced, through direct contact with other cells and the secretion of adipocyte-derived factors.

Moreover, it’s critical to understand that bone marrow fat isn’t homogenous. Bone marrow adipose tissue (BMAT) is a heterogeneous tissue, meaning its composition and function can vary depending on factors such as location within the skeleton, age, and overall health of the individual. This metabolic complexity further emphasizes the importance of bone marrow fat in our overall health.

3. Relationship with Obesity

A man with a big belly is sitting on the bed.

Obesity, a pressing worldwide health issue, leads to an excess of fat tissue, including in the bone marrow. This accumulation disrupts the creation of new bone and blood cells due to the impact on the marrow’s regenerative abilities.

Research has shown that the gene encoding for Dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (Dpp4), a protease shed from the plasma membrane and an essential target of clinical diabetes treatments, is significantly regulated in obese individuals. Inhibition of DPP4 has been shown to enhance osteogenic gene expression and mineralization during osteogenic differentiation, highlighting the potential therapeutic role of DPP4 inhibitors in promoting bone health in obesity.

4. Influence on the Aging Process

A woman and grandfather are walking jogging on the street at the park. Grandfather talk about the story of  past life experiences. Healthy and lifestyle concept.

The process of aging also significantly influences bone marrow fat composition. As we age, our bodies naturally undergo various physiological changes, and bones are no exception. With advancing age, there’s an observable increase in marrow adiposity. This transformation isn’t merely cosmetic; it has profound implications for the health and function of the skeletal system.

Studies indicate that as we age, more mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), precursors to both bone and fat cells, become fat cells. This may lead to age-related bone loss and osteoporosis. Yet, this theory is challenged by evidence showing that bone marrow fat can be neutral or even helpful during puberty or healing fractures.

5. Potential Impact on Bone Marrow Disorders

Doctor telling to patient woman the results of her medical tests. Doctor showing medical records to cancer patient in hospital ward. Senior doctor explaint the side effects of the intervention.

bone marrow disorders, such as leukemia and multiple myeloma, involve abnormalities in the production and function of blood cells within the bone marrow. While the exact relationship between marrow fat and these disorders is not fully understood, research suggests that changes in marrow fat composition could play a role in the development and progression of these conditions.

Research shows that marrow fat cells affect hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and their function. Too much marrow fat can disrupt HSC activity, impairing blood cell production and raising the risk of blood cancers.

Changes in the bone marrow’s environment, including the behavior of its fat cells, may aid cancer cell survival. Insights into marrow fat’s impact on marrow disorders could lead to new treatments. Strategies to modify fat cell development and activity in the bone marrow might restore healthy blood cell formation and enhance patient prognosis.

Similar Posts