Journal of Applied Physiology

Resistive exercises, with or without whole body vibration, prevent vertebral marrow fat accumulation during 60 days of head-down tilt bed rest in men

Guy Trudel, Elizabeth Coletta, Ian Cameron, Daniel L. Belavý, Martin Lecompte, Gabriele Armbrecht, Dieter Felsenberg, Hans K. Uhthoff


Fat accumulates in the bone marrow of lumbar vertebrae with bed rest. Exercise with or without whole body vibration may counter this effect. Our objectives were to measure 1) the vertebral fat fraction (VFF) of men subjected to bed rest who performed resistive exercises with (RVE, n = 7) or without whole body vibration(RE, n = 8) or no exercise (CTR, n = 9) using three MRI techniques; and 2) changes in peripheral blood counts. Twenty-four healthy men (age: 20–45 yr) underwent −6° head-down tilt (HDT) bed rest for 60 days. MRI was performed using three techniques (fat saturation, proton spectroscopy, and in and out of phase) to measure the fat fraction of L3, L4, and/or L5 at baseline, mid-HDT, and end-HDT. Erythrocytes and leukocytes were counted at HDT days 19, 33, 47, 54, and 60. The mean absolute VFF was increased in the CTR group at mid-HDT and end-HDT (+3.9 ± 1.3 and +3.6 ± 1.2%, respectively, both P < 0.05). The RE group had a smaller VFF change than the CTR group at mid-HDT (−0.9 ± 1.2 vs. +3.9 ± 1.3%, P < 0.05). The RVE group had a smaller VFF change than the CTR group at end-HDT (−2.6 ± 1.9 vs. +3.5 ± 1.2%, P < 0.05). Erythrocyte counts were increased in all groups at HDT day 19 and HDT day 33 and in the RE group at HDT day 54 (all P < 0.05). Bed rest for 60 days at −6° HDT increased lumbar VFF in men beyond natural involution. RVE and RE regimens effectively prevented VFF accumulation. Higher erythrocyte counts were not altered by RVE or RE. Whole body vibration, along with RE administered to people with prolonged immobility, may prevent fat accumulation in their bone marrow.

  • bone marrow
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • erythrocytes
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