, Volume 23, Issue 9, pp 2293-2301
Date: 16 Dec 2011

Ethnic and sex differences in bone marrow adipose tissue and bone mineral density relationship

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Abstract

Summary

The relationship between bone marrow adipose tissue and bone mineral density is different between African Americans and Caucasians as well as between men and women. This suggests that the mechanisms that regulate the differentiation and proliferation of bone marrow stromal cells may differ in these populations.

Introduction

It has long been established that there are ethnic and sex differences in bone mineral density (BMD) and fracture risk. Recent studies suggest that bone marrow adipose tissue (BMAT) may play a role in the pathogenesis of osteoporosis. It is unknown whether ethnic and sex differences exist in the relationship between BMAT and BMD.

Methods

Pelvic BMAT was evaluated in 455 healthy African American and Caucasian men and women (age 18–88 years) using whole-body T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging. BMD was measured using whole-body dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry.

Results

A negative correlation was observed between pelvic BMAT and total body BMD or pelvic BMD (r = −0.533, −0.576, respectively; P < 0.001). In multiple regression analyses with BMD as the dependent variable, ethnicity significantly entered the regression models as either an individual term or an interaction with BMAT. Menopausal status significantly entered the regression model with total body BMD as the dependent variable. African Americans had higher total body BMD than Caucasians for the same amount of BMAT, and the ethnic difference for pelvic BMD was greater in those participants with a higher BMAT. Men and premenopausal women had higher total body BMD levels than postmenopausal women for the same amount of BMAT.

Conclusions

An inverse relationship exists between BMAT and BMD in African American and Caucasian men and women. The observed ethnic and sex differences between BMAT and BMD in the present study suggest the possibility that the mechanisms regulating the differentiation and proliferation of bone marrow stromal cells may differ in these populations.