1H-MRS of femoral red and yellow bone marrow fat composition and water content in healthy young men and women at 3 T

  • Jesper LundbomEmail author
  • Alessandra Bierwagen
  • Kalman Bodis
  • Maria Apostolopoulou
  • Julia Szendroedi
  • Karsten Müssig
  • Jong-Hee Hwang
  • Michael Roden
Research Article



There is a discrepancy between studies suggesting that higher bone marrow fat saturation is associated with impaired health, and studies suggesting that erythropoiesis increases red bone marrow (RBM) fat saturation in young healthy individuals. Here, we seeked to elucidate these discrepancies by using long TE magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to study both yellow bone marrow (YBM) and RBM in the femur of healthy volunteers.

Materials and methods

Thirty-three young healthy volunteers (17 females), age range 20–31 years, underwent long TE 1H MRS at 3.0 T of RBM and YBM fat composition in the left femur. The water content of the bone marrow depots was measured using short TE MRS.


The female participants displayed a lower unsaturation in the sampled RBM volume (RBMV) than the males (P < 0.01) without displaying a concomitant difference in YBM (P = 0.42). They also showed a higher water content and broader spectral linewidths in RBM (P = 0.04). The water content in RBM strongly associated with broader spectral linewidths (R = 0.887, P ≪ 0.01) and inversely with RBMV fat unsaturation (R =  − 0.365, P = 0.04).


These results partly support the notion that females display higher rate of erythropoiesis and lower fat unsaturation in RBM.


Red bone marrow Yellow bone marrow Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy Male Female 



body mass index


Yellow bone marrow


Red bone marrow


Red bone marrow volume


Point‐resolved spectroscopy sequence


Volume of interest


Echo time


Repetition time


Number of signal averages




Analysis of variance



We thank Andrea Nagel, Nicole Achterath, Sofiya Gancheva, Kai Tinnes, Agnieszka Sutkowski and Martin Röhling (Institute for Clinical Diabetology, German Diabetes Center, Düsseldorf) for their excellent help with the studies. Additionally, the authors appreciate the voluntary contribution of all study volunteers. This work was supported by grants of the Deutsche Diabetes Gesellschaft (DDG), by the Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia and the German Federal Ministry of Health, and in part by a grant from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) to the German Center for Diabetes Research.

Author contributions

JL, AB, JS, KM and MR conceived and designed the study. AB acquired the data and contributed to the analysis and interpretation of the data and reviewed and edited the manuscript. JL analyzed and interpreted the data and drafted the manuscript. KB, MA, JS, KM, JH and MR contributed to the discussion, and reviewed and edited the manuscript. All authors gave final approval of this version to be published.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no potential conflicts of interest relevant to this article.

Ethical approval

The study protocol was approved by the ethics board of Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf and adhered to the ethics guidelines of the Declaration of Helsinki.


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Copyright information

© European Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine and Biology (ESMRMB) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Clinical DiabetologyGerman Diabetes Center at Heinrich Heine University, Leibniz Center for Diabetes ResearchDüsseldorfGermany
  2. 2.German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD)Munich-NeuherbergGermany
  3. 3.Division of Endocrinology and Diabetology, Medical FacultyHeinrich Heine UniversityDüsseldorfGermany
  4. 4.Helsinki Medical Imaging CentreUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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