A handful of brain cells deep in the brain may play a surprising role in controlling women’s bone density, according to new research by UC San Francisco and UCLA scientists.
In a study published January 11, 2019 in Nature Communications, researchers showed that blocking a particular set of signals from these cells causes female (but not male) mice to build extraordinarily strong bones and maintain them into old age, raising hopes for new approaches to preventing or treating osteoporosis in older women.
“Our collaborators who study bone for a living said they’d never seen bone this strong,” said study senior author Holly Ingraham, Ph.D. “Our current understanding of how the body controls bone growth can’t explain this, which suggests we may have uncovered a completely new pathway that could be used to improve bone strength in older women and others with fragile bones.”
A large study has produced strong evidence that a drug commonly used to treat the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis could safely prevent fractures in elderly women who have bones that aren’t as weak.
The study of 2,000 women age 65 and older at earlier stages of bone loss — a condition known as osteopenia — found the drug zoledronatereduced by about one-third the risk they would suffer a break.
“This is an extremely important paper,” says Dr. Ethel Siris, a Columbia University medical professor who specializes in thinning bones and wasn’t involved in the study. “We now know that we have a therapy that has been shown to be highly effective.”
Women 65 and older should keep getting screened for osteoporosis, or porous, fragile bones that are prone to fractures, U.S. doctors recommend.
Some younger women who have an increased risk of osteoporosis might also benefit from bone tests, according to guidelines released today from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. This might include smokers, women who drink excessively, and women who are underweight or have a parent who has fractured a hip.
“Since many people don’t know they have osteoporosis until they have a fracture, screening gives us a chance to prevent these fractures from happening,” said task force member Dr. Chien-Wen Tseng of the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine in Honolulu.
Hip fracture is a major public health problem, associated with high morbidity and mortality, and high costs to the healthcare system. With the aging of populations worldwide, the socioeconomic burden of hip fracture is set to rise dramatically.
A new Australian study published in Archives of Osteoporosis, looks at the 12-month mortality of older persons presenting to hospitals in Australia with hip fracture. It is the first large population-based matched cohort study exploring excess mortality risk from hip fracture in the Australian population while accounting for pre-injury comorbid conditions.
The researchers linked hospital and mortality data from four Australian states. 9748 Individuals aged 65 years and older who had a hospital admission with a primary diagnosis of hip fracture in 2009 were matched 1:1 on age, sex, and postcode of residence with a cohort of non-injured individuals selected from the electoral roll. Adjusted mortality rate ratios and attributable risk percent were calculated, and Cox proportional hazard regression was used to examine the effect of risk factors on survival.
Authors of a small-scale study are asserting that resistance training may increase testosterone levels in older men. Researchers believe that increased levels of the hormone may help guard against osteoporosis and increase resistance to injury from falls.
The study (abstract only available for free) is published online in the FASEB Journalfrom the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology and documents a research project that involved 6 young men and 13 older men. Levels of testosterone were measured before and after a 12-week resistance training program focused on knee extension and flexion. Biopsies were taken from the vastus lateralis.