ANN ARBOR, Mich. It has been known for its flavorful addition to soups and as a delicacy for dogs but bone marrow fat may also have untapped health benefits, new research finds.
A University of Michigan-led study shows that the fat tissue in bone marrow is a significant source of the hormone adiponectin, which helps maintain insulin sensitivity, break down fat, and has been linked to decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity-associated cancers. The findings appear in today's online-ahead-of-print issue of Cell Metabolism.
Bone marrow adipose tissue has primarily been associated with negative health effects, most notably because of a documented relationship to reduced bone mass and increased risks of fractures and osteoporosis. The new study however which included people with anorexia, patients undergoing chemotherapy, rabbits and mice suggests that this type of fat may also have benefits.
"These findings are significant because we've found that bone marrow adipose tissue may have positive, protective roles, and influence adaptive functions outside of the bone tissue, at least during calorie restriction," says senior author Ormond MacDougald, Ph.D., the Faulkner Professor in the Department of Molecular & Integrative Physiology, a professor of internal medicine, a member of U-M's Brehm Center for Diabetes Research, and a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Cambridge in the UK.
"We know that low adiponectin has been correlated with multiple health problems and our findings suggest that an important source of this protein, and potentially others that we haven't identified yet, is the fat tissue inside bone marrow," adds co-lead author Erica Scheller, D.D.S. Ph.D., a U-M postdoctoral fellow in the MacDougald lab.
Researchers have long studied the function of our fat, or 'adipose' tissue, in hopes of better understanding the link between obesity and ill health. One possible link is adip
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University of Michigan Health System