Recent studies suggest that bone marrow adipose tissue (BMAT) might play a role in the pathogenesis of osteoporosis. Previous research using regional magnetic resonance spectroscopy methods to measure BMAT has reported inconsistent findings on the relationship between BMAT and dual-energy absorptiometry (DXA)-measured bone mineral density (BMD).
In the present study, total body and pelvic BMAT were evaluated in 56 healthy women (age 18–88 yrs, mean±SD, 47.4±17.6 yrs; BMI, 24.3±4.2 kg/m2) with T1-weighted whole-body magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). BMD was measured using the whole-body DXA mode (GE Lunar DPX, software version 4.7).
A strong negative correlation was observed between pelvic BMAT and BMD (total-body BMD, R=− 0.743, P<0.001; pelvic BMD, R=− 0.646, P<0.001), and between total-body BMAT and BMD (total-body BMD, R=− 0.443, P<0.001; pelvic BMD, R=− 0.308, P < 0.001). The inverse association between pelvic BMAT and BMD remained strong after adjusting for age, weight, total body fat, and menopausal status (partial correlation: total-body BMD, R=− 0.553, P< 0.001; pelvic BMD, R=− 0.513, P<0.001). BMAT was also highly correlated with age (pelvic BMAT, R=0.715, P< 0.001; total-body BMAT, R=0.519, P<0.001).
MRI-measured BMAT is thus strongly inversely correlated with DXA-measured BMD independent of other predictor variables. These observations, in the context of DXA technical concerns, support the growing evidence linking BMAT with low bone density.
Keywords: Body composition, Bone marrow, Bone mineral density, Dual-energy absorptiometry, Magnetic resonance imaging