A longitudinal study of the association between dietary factors, serum lipids, and bone marrow lesions of the knee

Arthritis Res Ther. 2012 Jan 18;14(1):R13. doi: 10.1186/ar3689.


Introduction: Bone marrow lesions (BMLs) play an important role in knee osteoarthritis, but their etiology is not well understood. The aim of this longitudinal study was to describe the association between dietary factors, serum lipids, and BMLs.

Methods: In total, 394 older men and women (mean age, 63 years; range, 52 to 79) were measured at baseline and approximately 2.7 years later. BMLs were determined by using T2-weighted fat-saturation magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) by measuring the maximal area of the lesion. Nutrient intake (total energy, fat, carbohydrate, protein, and sugar) and serum lipids were assessed at baseline.

Results: Cross-sectionally, dietary factors and lipids were not significantly associated with BMLs. Energy, carbohydrate, and sugar intake (but not fat) were positively associated with a change in BML size (β = 15.44 to 19.27 mm2 per 1 SD increase; all P < 0.05). High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol tended to be negatively associated with BML change (β = -11.66 mm2 per 1 SD increase; P = 0.088).

Conclusions: Energy, carbohydrate, and sugar intake may be risk factors for BML development and progression. HDL cholesterol seems protective against BMLs. These results suggest that macronutrients and lipids may be important in BML etiology and that dietary modification may alter BML natural history.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Bone Marrow / pathology*
  • Bone Marrow Diseases / blood
  • Bone Marrow Diseases / pathology
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Fatty Acids / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / pathology*
  • Lipids / blood*
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / blood
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / diagnosis
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / diagnostic imaging
  • Radiography
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Triglycerides / blood


  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Fatty Acids
  • Lipids
  • Triglycerides
  • Cholesterol