Anorexics have strikingly high fat levels within their bone marrow
Washington: Researchers at Children`s Hospital Boston have reported that people with anorexia nervosa have strikingly high levels of fat within their bone marrow.
The researchers’ findings will be published in the February issue of the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.
The study was based on MRI imaging of the knees of 20 girls with anorexia and 20 healthy girls of the same age.
"It`s counter-intuitive that an emaciated young woman with almost no subcutaneous fat would be storing fat in her marrow," says endocrinologist Catherine Gordon, MD, MSc, director of the Bone Health Program at Children`s and the study`s senior investigator.
In the study, the knee MRI images were read by radiologists who were unaware of the patient`s clinical status. Compared with controls, the patients with anorexia had markedly increased fat content-- visualized as "yellow marrow"-- and less than half as much healthy red marrow in their knees; this was seen both in the lower thigh bone (femur) and upper shinbone (tibia).
"Bone formation is very low in girls with anorexia, and that`s a particular problem because they are growing adolescents who should be maximally forming bones," says Gordon. "But because of the hormonal alterations induced by malnutrition, the bone marrow stops yielding the needed cells to form bone. Instead the stem cells are pushed toward fat formation."
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