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Bone. 2012 Jan;50(1):23-7. doi: 10.1016/j.bone.2011.08.032. Epub 2011 Sep 13.

Short-term physical activity intervention decreases femoral bone marrow adipose tissue in young children: a pilot study.

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Department of Nutrition Sciences, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA.


Mechanical stimulation is necessary for maximization of geometrical properties of bone mineralization contributing to long-term strength. The amount of mineralization in bones has been reciprocally related to volume of bone marrow adipose tissue and this relationship is suggested to be an independent predictor of fracture. Physical activity represents an extrinsic factor that impacts both mineralization and marrow volume exerting permissive capacity of the growing skeleton to achieve its full genetic potential. Because geometry- and shape-determining processes primarily manifest during the linear growth period, the accelerated structural changes accompanying early childhood (ages 3 to 6 y) may have profound impact on lifelong bone health. The objective of this pilot study was to determine if a short-term physical activity intervention in young children would result in augmentation of geometric properties of bone. Three days per week the intervention group (n=10) participated in 30 min of moderate intensity physical activity, such as jumping, hopping and running, and stretching activities, whereas controls (n=10) underwent usual activities during the 10-week intervention period. Femoral bone marrow adipose tissue volume and total body composition were assessed by magnetic resonance imaging and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, respectively, at baseline and after 10 weeks. Although after 10-weeks, intergroup differences were not observed, a significant decrease in femoral marrow adipose tissue volume was observed in those participating in physical activity intervention. Our findings suggest that physical activity may improve bone quality via antagonistic effects on femoral bone marrow adipose tissue and possibly long-term agonistic effects on bone mineralization.

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