Contributors to Metabolic Disease Risk Following Spinal Cord Injury

Academic Article


  • Purpose of Review: Spinal cord injury (SCI)-induced changes in neurological function have significant impact on the metabolism and subsequent metabolic-related disease risk in injured individuals. Although alterations in body composition, particularly excess adiposity and its anatomical distribution in the visceral depot or ectopic location in nonadipose organs, are known to significantly contribute to metabolic disease risk, changes in fat mass and fat-free mass do not fully account for this elevated disease risk in subjects with SCI. Recent Findings: There are other negative adaptations in body composition including reductions in skeletal muscle mass and alterations in muscle fiber type, in addition to significant reduction in physical activity, which contribute to a decline in metabolic rate and increased metabolic disease risk following SCI. Recent studies in adult humans suggest that cold- and diet-induced thermogenesis through brown adipose tissue (BAT) metabolism may be important for energy balance and substrate metabolism, and particularly sensitive to sympathetic nervous signaling. Summary: Considering the physiologic and metabolic phenotypes observed with SCI, particularly across varying anatomic levels, understanding BAT function and impairment with SCI may help improve clinical practice for subjects with SCI while bringing clarity to a broader understanding of the metabolic significance of BAT in adult humans.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Smith DL; Yarar-Fisher C
  • Start Page

  • 190
  • End Page

  • 199
  • Volume

  • 4
  • Issue

  • 3