Longitudinal bone, muscle and adipose tissue changes in physically active subjects - sex differences during adolescence and maturity Academic Article uri icon


  • To explore changes in bone, muscle and adipose tissue composition in athletes with high physical activity levels at different stages of life.Thigh MRIs were acquired at baseline and 2-year follow-up for 20 young (16±1 years) and 20 mature (46±5 years) athletes (10 males, 10 females, respectively). Longitudinal changes in cross-sectional areas (CSAs) of femoral bone, quadriceps muscle, and thigh subcutaneous (SCF) and intermuscular (IMF) adipose tissue were evaluated.Adolescent males displayed significant muscle (+5.0%, 95%CI: 0.8, 9.2) and bone growth (+2.9%, 95%CI: 1.3, 4.5), whereas adolescent females did not (muscle: +0.8%, 95%CI: -2.2, 3.8; bone: +1.9%, 95%CI: -2.1, 5.6). Adolescent and mature females showed significant SCF increases (+11.0%, 95%CI: 0.9, 21.1 and +6.0%, 95%CI: 0.6, 11.4, respectively), whereas adolescent and mature males did not (+7.2%, 95%CI: -8.0, 22.5 and +1.5%, 95%CI: -9.7, 11.8, respectively). Muscle and bone changes were highly correlated in adolescent males (r=0.66), mature males (r=0.75) and mature females (r=0.68) but not in adolescent females (r=-0.11).The results suggest sex-specific patterns of age-related change in bone, muscle and adipose tissue, and tight coupling of bone and muscle growth. Sex-specific bone-muscle-adipose tissue relationships may have implications for understanding sex differences in fracture risk.


  • Culvenor, AG
  • Boeth, H
  • Diederichs, G
  • Wirth, W
  • Duda, G
  • Eckstein, F

publication date

  • 2016