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J Bone Miner Res. 2018 Apr;33(4):580-588. doi: 10.1002/jbmr.3325. Epub 2017 Nov 27.

Does Visceral or Subcutaneous Fat Influence Peripheral Cortical Bone Strength During Adolescence? A Longitudinal Study.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, The University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, Iowa City, IA, USA.
Department of Epidemiology, College of Public Health, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA.
Department of Health and Human Physiology, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA.
Department of Preventive & Community Dentistry, The University of Iowa College of Dentistry & Dental Clinics, Iowa City, IA, USA.
Department of Internal Medicine, The University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, Iowa City, IA, USA.


This study evaluated the longitudinal relationships among visceral adipose tissue (VAT), subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT), and peripheral bone strength during adolescence. Fat and lean mass, VAT and SAT area, and android/gynoid (A/G) ratio were estimated with DXA. Our main outcome was strength-strain index (SSI), an indicator of peripheral bone strength estimated by pQCT at the radius and tibia. Sex-specific analyses evaluated the longitudinal bone-fat relationship from ages 11 to 19 years with linear mixed models using biological age as the time variable and adjusted for limb length and lean mass in 182 girls and 167 boys. Variables were standardized (mean = 0, SD = 1) prior to model fitting and results shown are parameter estimates ± SE. Fat mass and SAT were positively associated with SSI (radius: 0.07 ± 0.02, p = 0.003 and 0.05 ± 0.02, 0.041, respectively; tibia: 0.09 ± 0.02, p < 0.001 and 0.08 ± 0.02, p < 0.001, respectively) prior to, but not following adjustment for lean mass in girls. In contrast, fat mass and SAT were negatively associated with radial SSI, both before and after adjustment for lean mass in boys (fat mass: -0.05 ± 0.01, p = 0.001; SAT: -0.04 ± 0.01, p = 0.004). In full models, negative associations were limited to VAT in girls and included radial (-0.06 ± 0.02, p = 0.001) and tibial SSI (-0.04 ± 0.02, p = 0.033). For boys, there were no significant associations present between VAT and SSI at the radius or tibia. In analyses limited to obese participants, an A/G ratio was not significantly associated with SSI in girls, but was negatively associated with radial SSI regardless of adjustment for lean mass in boys (-0.06 ± 0.02, p = 0.018). These results that show a negative relationship between peripheral bone strength and VAT in girls, but greater total and central adiposity in boys, suggest these factors play a role in adequate acquisition of bone strength during adolescence.



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