Bone marrow changes in adolescent girls with anorexia nervosa



Early osteoporosis is common among adolescent girls with anorexia nervosa (AN) and may result from premature conversion of red (RM) to yellow bone marrow. We performed right knee magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) on a 1.0 T extremity scanner in 20 patients and 20 healthy controls, aged 16.2 ± 1.6 years (mean ± SD). Coronal T1-weighted (T1W) images and T1 maps were generated from T1 relaxometry images. Blinded radiologists visually assessed RM in the distal femoral and proximal tibial metaphyses in T1W images using a scale of signal intensity from 0 (homogeneous hyperintensity, no RM) to 4 (all dark, complete RM). Subjects with AN exhibited nearly twofold lower metaphyseal RM scores in both the femur (0.64 versus 1.22, p = .03) and tibia (0.54 versus 0.96, p = .08). In relaxometric measurements of four selected regions (femur and tibia amd epiphysis and metaphysis), subjects with AN showed higher mean epiphyseal but lower metaphyseal T1. The net AN-control difference between epiphysis and metaphysis was 70 ms in the femur (+31 versus −35 ms, p = .02) and of smaller magnitude in the tibia. In relaxometry data from the full width of the femur adjacent to the growth plate, AN subjects showed mean T1 consistently lower than in controls by 30 to 50 ms in virtually every part of the sampling region. These findings suggest that adolescents with AN exhibit premature conversion of hematopoietic to fat cells in the marrow of the peripheral skeleton potentially owing to adipocyte over osteoblast differentiation in the mesenchymal stem cell pool. © 2010 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research