Osteoporosis is when the body loses too much bone mass, doesn’t make enough bone or both, and it’s an extremely common issue among women, particularly postmenopausal women. It’s typically caused by a combination of factors, including aging, nutritional deficiencies, other health conditions and more.
According to new animal research published in the journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), a particular protein gene also appears to play a major role in osteoporosis development. This could help lead to further developments on osteoporosis treatment and prevention methods.
Protein That May Help Protect Against Osteoporosis Identified
As the group of researchers out of China explained in their study:
Postmenopausal osteoporosis is associated with bone formation inhibition mediated by the impaired osteogenic differentiation potential of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs). However, identifying and confirming the essential genes in the osteogenic differentiation of BMSCs and osteoporosis remain challenging. The study aimed at revealing the key gene that regulated osteogenic differentiation of BMSCs and led to osteoporosis, thus exploring its therapeutic effect in osteoporosis.
How did the study authors set out to reveal this key gene? First they identified “six essential genes related to the osteogenic differentiation of BMSCs and osteoporosis … namely, fibrillin 2 (Fbn2), leucine-rich repeat-containing 17 (Lrrc17), heat shock protein b7 (Hspb7), high mobility group AT-hook 1 (Hmga1), nexilin F-actin-binding protein (Nexn), and endothelial cell-specific molecule 1 (Esm1).”
Then they noticed during the in vitro and in vivo experiments that Hmga1 expression decreased in the bone tissue of the ovariectomized (OVX) rats (rats whose ovaries have been removed) while it increased during bone formation prior to ovaries being removed. In addition, when the researchers injected “Hmga1-overexpressing lentivirus into the bone marrow cavity of OVX rats, the bone loss, and osteogenic differentiation inhibition of BMSCs in OVX rats were partially reversed, while osteoclast differentiation promotion of BMSCs in OVX rats was unaffected.”
Ultimately, the study authors concluded: “Taken together, the present study confirms that Hmga1 prevents OVX-induced bone loss by the Wnt signaling pathway and reveals that Hmga1 is a potential gene therapeutic target for postmenopausal osteoporosis.”
“Our study demonstrated that Hmga1 prevents bone loss by promoting the osteogenic differentiation of BMSCs in osteoporosis rats, suggesting that Hmga1 could be an important therapeutic target for osteoporosis,” said corresponding author Yihe Hu, Ph.D., of Zhejiang University.
This means finding different ways to encourage expression of the Hmga1 protein may help treat, prevent and even reverse osteoporosis.
Other Ways to Support Bone Health
If you looking for ways to help promote bone health, there are several steps you can take, including the following:
- Consume a healthy diet high in protein and calcium.
- Move your body by combining different types of bone-supporting exercise, such as Pilates, tai chi, yoga, bodyweight exercises, elliptical workouts, brisk walking, squats, pull-ups, barbell and dumbbell presses, jumping rope, dips, deadlifts, push-ups, etc.
- Take supplements like magnesium, calcium, vitamins D and K, strontium, omega-3, bone broth, and spirulina.
- Try acupuncture.
- Use essential oils.