New York, Sep 24 : Researchers have identified a mechanism that leads to bone loss in older adults, an advance that may help develop therapeutics to treat the age-associated bone loss condition.
Osteoporosis -- the thinning of bone and the loss of bone density that increases the risk of fractures -- is a major health problem in older people.
Often the condition is accompanied by an increase in fat cells in the bone marrow.
The study led by Yi-Ping Li, Professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, found a protein called Cbf-beta which plays a critical role in maintaining the bone-producing cells.
Furthermore, the examination of aged mice showed dramatically reduced levels of Cbf-beta in bone marrow cells as compared to younger mice.
The findings showed when this mechanism malfunctions, progenitor cells stop creating bone-producing cells and instead create fat cells.
Thus, maintaining this Cbf-beta may be essential to prevent human age-associated osteoporosis that is due to elevated creation of fat cells, Li said.
The results were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Knowledge of this mechanism can provide targets in the search for novel bone-loss therapeutics to treat human osteoporosis with minimal side effects, the researchers noted.