Background/Purpose: Sympathetic nervous system activation in obesity is associated with impaired cardiovascular and metabolic function. Animal studies have shown a direct link between sympathetic nervous activation and bone health but little is known about this link in humans. This study examined whether sympathetic activation may impact bone health in overweight adults.
Methods: This cross sectional study included 96 overweight or obese middle-aged adults (51 males, mean body mass index: 32.8 kg/m(2), mean age: 55.3 years). Multivariate linear regression models evaluated associations between whole body and leg bone mineral density (BMD) and bone mineral content (BMC) derived from dual energy X-ray absorptiometry and muscle sympathetic nervous system activity (MSNA) measured by micro-neurography.
Results: Older age, male sex and higher weight were associated with higher leg and body BMC and BMD. After adjustment for age, sex and weight, MSNA was significantly inversely associated with total BMC (p = 0.012) and with leg BMC (p <0.01) but was not associated with either total or leg BMD (p = 0.159 and p = 0.063 respectively). When the analysis was sex specific, the relationships between MSNA and total and leg BMC were only significant in males.
Conclusions: Our study indicates that in middle aged overweight or obese males, sympathetic activation may have a deleterious effect on bone mineral content.