Exercise Decreases Marrow Adipose Tissue Through ß-Oxidation in Obese Running Mice

J Bone Miner Res. 2017 Aug;32(8):1692-1702. doi: 10.1002/jbmr.3159. Epub 2017 May 4.


The relationship between marrow adipose tissue (MAT) and bone health is poorly understood. We used running exercise to ask whether obesity-associated MAT can be attenuated via exercise and whether this correlates with gains in bone quantity and quality. C57BL/6 mice were divided into diet-induced obesity (DIO, n = 14) versus low-fat diet (LFD, n = 14). After 3 months, 16-week-old mice were allocated to an exercise intervention (LFD-E, DIO-E) or a control group (LFD, DIO) for 6 weeks (4 groups, n = 7/group). Marrow adipocyte area was 44% higher with obesity (p < 0.0001) and after exercise 33% lower in LFD (p < 0.0001) and 39% lower in DIO (p < 0.0001). In LFD, exercise did not affect adipocyte number; however, in DIO, the adipocyte number was 56% lower (p < 0.0001). MAT was 44% higher in DIO measured by osmium-μCT, whereas exercise associated with reduced MAT (-23% in LFD, -48% in DIO, p < 0.05). MAT was additionally quantified by 9.4TMRI, and correlated with osmium-µCT (r = 0.645; p < 0.01). Consistent with higher lipid beta oxidation, perilipin 3 (PLIN3) rose with exercise in tibial mRNA (+92% in LFD, +60% in DIO, p < 0.05). Tibial µCT-derived trabecular bone volume (BV/TV) was not influenced by DIO but responded to exercise with an increase of 19% (p < 0.001). DIO was associated with higher cortical periosteal and endosteal volumes of 15% (p = 0.012) and 35% (p < 0.01), respectively, but Ct.Ar/Tt.Ar was lower by 2.4% (p < 0.05). There was a trend for higher stiffness (N/m) in DIO, and exercise augmented this further. In conclusion, obesity associated with increases in marrow lipid-measured by osmium-μCT and MRI-and partially due to an increase in adipocyte size, suggesting increased lipid uptake into preexisting adipocytes. Exercise associated with smaller adipocytes and less bone lipid, likely invoking increased ß-oxidation and basal lipolysis as evidenced by higher levels of PLIN3. © 2017 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.


MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / metabolism*
  • Adipose Tissue / diagnostic imaging
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow Cells / metabolism*
  • Dietary Fats / adverse effects
  • Dietary Fats / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Lipolysis*
  • Mice
  • Obesity / chemically induced
  • Obesity / diagnostic imaging
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal*
  • X-Ray Microtomography*


  • Dietary Fats