Good, Bad, or Ugly: the Biological Roles of Bone Marrow Fat
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Purpose of Review
Bone marrow fat expresses mixed characteristics, which could correspond to white, brown, and beige types of fat. Marrow fat could act as either energy storing and adipokine secreting white fat or as a source of energy for hematopoiesis and bone metabolism, thus acting as brown fat. However, there is also a negative interaction between marrow fat and other elements of the bone marrow milieu, which is known as lipotoxicity. In this review, we will describe the good and bad roles of marrow fat in the bone, while focusing on the specific components of the negative effect of marrow fat on bone metabolism.
Lipotoxicity in the bone is exerted by bone marrow fat through the secretion of adipokines and free fatty acids (FFA) (predominantly palmitate). High levels of FFA found in the bone marrow of aged and osteoporotic bone are associated with decreased osteoblastogenesis and bone formation, decreased hematopoiesis, and increased osteoclastogenesis. In addition, FFA such as palmitate and stearate induce apoptosis and dysfunctional autophagy in the osteoblasts, thus affecting their differentiation and function.
Regulation of marrow fat could become a therapeutic target for osteoporosis. Inhibition of the synthesis of FFA by marrow fat could facilitate osteoblastogenesis and bone formation while affecting osteoclastogenesis. However, further studies testing this hypothesis are still required.
KeywordsLipotoxicity Osteoporosis Fatty acids Adipokines Palmitate Apoptosis
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
Lackshman Singh, Sonia Tyagi, Damian Myers, and Gustavo Duque declare no conflict of interest.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent
This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.
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