Bone marrow adipose tissue is a unique adipose subtype with distinct roles in glucose homeostasis

Karla J. Suchacki, Adriana A. S. Tavares, Domenico Mattiucci, Erica L. Scheller, Giorgos Papanastasiou, Calum Gray, Matthew C. Sinton, Lynne E. Ramage, Wendy A. McDougald, Andrea Lovdel, Richard J. Sulston, Benjamin J. Thomas, Bonnie M. Nicholson, Amanda J. Drake, Carlos J. Alcaide-Corral, Diana Said, Antonella Poloni, Saverio Cinti, Gavin J. Macpherson, Marc R. DweckJack P. M. Andrews, Michelle C. Williams, Robert J. Wallace, Edwin J. R. van Beek, Ormond A. MacDougald, Nicholas M. Morton, Roland H. Stimson, William P. Cawthorn*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Citations (Scopus)


Bone marrow adipose tissue (BMAT) comprises >10% of total adipose mass, yet unlike white or brown adipose tissues (WAT or BAT) its metabolic functions remain unclear. Herein, we address this critical gap in knowledge. Our transcriptomic analyses revealed that BMAT is distinct from WAT and BAT, with altered glucose metabolism and decreased insulin responsiveness. We therefore tested these functions in mice and humans using positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET/CT) with 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose. This revealed that BMAT resists insulin- and cold-stimulated glucose uptake, while further in vivo studies showed that, compared to WAT, BMAT resists insulin-stimulated Akt phosphorylation. Thus, BMAT is functionally distinct from WAT and BAT. However, in humans basal glucose uptake in BMAT is greater than in axial bones or subcutaneous WAT and can be greater than that in skeletal muscle, underscoring the potential of BMAT to influence systemic glucose homeostasis. These PET/CT studies characterise BMAT function in vivo, establish new methods for BMAT analysis, and identify BMAT as a distinct, major adipose tissue subtype.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3097
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPrint publication - 18 Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes


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