Endogenous Glucocorticoid Signaling in the Regulation of Bone and Marrow Adiposity: Lessons from Metabolism and Cross Talk in Other Tissues

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Purpose of Review: The development of adiposity in the bone marrow, known as marrow adipose tissue (MAT), is often associated with musculoskeletal frailty. Glucocorticoids, which are a key component of the biological response to stress, affect both bone and MAT. These molecules signal through receptors such as the glucocorticoid receptor (GR), but the role of the GR in regulation of MAT is not yet clear from previous studies. The purpose of this review is to establish and determine the role of GR-mediated signaling in marrow adiposity by comparing and contrasting what is known against other energy-storing tissues like adipose tissue, liver, and muscle, to provide better insight into the regulation of MAT during times of metabolic stress (e.g., dietary challenges, aging). Recent Findings: GR-mediated glucocorticoid signaling is critical for proper storage and utilization of lipids in cells such as adipocytes and hepatocytes and proteolysis in muscle, impacting whole-body composition, energy utilization, and homeostasis through a complex network of tissue cross talk between these systems. Loss of GR signaling in bone promotes increased MAT and decreased bone mass. Summary: GR-mediated signaling in the liver, adipose tissue, and muscle is critical for whole-body energy and metabolic homeostasis, and both similarities and differences in GR-mediated GC signaling in MAT as compared with these tissues are readily apparent. It is clear that GC-induced pathways work together through these tissues to affect systemic biology, and understanding the role of bone in these patterns of tissue cross talk may lead to a better understanding of MAT-bone biology that improves treatment strategies for frailty-associated diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)438-445
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Osteoporosis Reports
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019


  • Adipocyte
  • Aging
  • Bone marrow
  • Corticosterone
  • Cortisol
  • Cortisone
  • Glucocorticoid
  • Osteoblast

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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