As you age, the bone density starts thinning, which results in eventual bone loss and conditions like osteoporosis. Scientists have identified a mechanism that causes the body to stop creating bone-producing cells with age, using which one can now device preventive treatments and measure to stop the bone loss. Osteoporosis is a condition where the loss of bone density and bone thinning increase the risk of fractures in the elderly. This condition is often accompanied by an increase in fat cells in the bone marrow. Researchers from University of Alabama at Birmingham in the US found that a protein called Cbf-beta plays a critical role in maintaining the bone-producing cells.
The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and it examined the bones of an aged mice and found the dramatically reduced levels of Cbf-beta in bone marrow cells, as compared to younger mice. They further found that when this mechanism malfunctions, progenitor cells stop creating bone-producing cells, and instead create fat cells.
The scientists thus concluded that maintaining Cbf-beta could be playing a crucial role in preventing human age-associated osteoporosis that is due to elevated creation of fat cells.
Researchers explained the underlying mechanism leading to osteoporosis. Bone is a living tissue that constantly rebuilds. Our bones need a constant new creation of cells specific to their tissue, including the bone-producing cells called osteoblasts. The researchers said that these osteoblasts live only about three months and do not divide. The team focused on the molecular mechanism, which controls the line of commitment that switch between the osteoblast and adipocyte tracks.
"The knowledge of this mechanism can provide targets in the search for novel bone-loss therapeutics to treat human osteoporosis with minimal side effects," they said.
Osteoporosis is associated with a set of factors including depletion in bone mass and density as a result of ageing, previous injuries, genetic inheritance, family history of osteoporosis, etc. Nutrition and osteoporosis are closely linked. A right diet can prevent the age-related ailment.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, you must eat dairy product such as low-fat and non-fat milk, yogurt and cheese, fatty varieties of fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines, fruits and vegetables including collard greens, turnip greens, kale, okra, brussels sprouts, Chinese cabbage, dandelion greens, mustard greens, broccoli, spinach, beet greens, artichokes, plantains, potatoes, sweet potatoes, papaya, oranges, bananas, pineapples, papaya, prunes, red peppers, green peppers, grapefruits, strawberries and papaya. On the other hand, alcohol, coffee, and salty foods may aggravate bone depletion.
(With inputs from PTI)