Osteoporosis breakthrough opens new therapy options

The discovery of a gene that regulates bone growth may provide a therapeutic target to prevent osteoporosis, scientists have said.

Bone scan showing osteoporosis (Photograph: SPL)
Bone scan showing osteoporosis (Photograph: SPL)

Researchers studying the effects of ageing on bone deterioration in mice found the gene Maf regulates the creation of cells responsible for bone formation or degradation.

The team, led by Keizo Nishikawa of Tokyo Medical and Dental University in Japan, believes the discovery may provide a molecular basis for preventing or treating age-related osteoporosis.

Bone marrow contains mesenchymal cells, capable of forming a variety of cell types. These include osteoblasts, which promote bone growth, and adipocytes, which have the reverse effect.

As the body ages, mesenchymal cells are more likely to differentiate into adipocytes, which inhibit bone formation and lay down marrow fat, causing osteoporosis.

This effect is also seen in diabetic patients taking thiazolidinediones, suggesting that treatment to alleviate this process could have benefits for osteoporosis related to age and drug use.

Researchers screened the mouse genome for mRNAs expressed in bone formation, which identified Maf.

In healthy mice, Maf regulates the creation of osteoblasts and adipocytes by co-operating with transcription factor Runx2. It also down regulates Pparg, a gene which causes aggregation of marrow fat.

Mice bred to lack functioning Maf genes suffered impaired bone formation and accelerated age-related osteoporosis.

Researchers found that at least some of the age-related decline in Maf expression was due to oxidative stress, known to play a role in disrupting biological systems in ageing.

The authors concluded: 'The modulation of Maf expression appears to hold considerable promise as what we believe to be a novel antiageing therapeutic target in the skeletal system.'

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

NHS Employers updates guidance for assessing COVID-19 risk in BAME staff

NHS Employers updates guidance for assessing COVID-19 risk in BAME staff

Updated guidance to help GP practices assess and mitigate the risk staff from black,...

PHE unable to confirm it will meet deadline for COVID-19 risk report

PHE unable to confirm it will meet deadline for COVID-19 risk report

Public Health England (PHE) has been unable to confirm if its report into how factors...

More than half of GP locums have seen a significant drop in income due to COVID-19

More than half of GP locums have seen a significant drop in income due to COVID-19

More than half of GP locums have experienced a significant fall in their income during...

How a GP helped develop a protective shield to cover patients needing CPR in the pandemic

How a GP helped develop a protective shield to cover patients needing CPR in the pandemic

Wiltshire GP Dr Lydia Campbell-Hill explains how she helped create a mini isolation...

GP practices can now sign up to new online PPE portal

GP practices can now sign up to new online PPE portal

GP practices will be able to register with the DHSC's new online PPE portal, which...

Fully-qualified GP workforce fell by 712 over the past year

Fully-qualified GP workforce fell by 712 over the past year

The fully-qualified GP workforce in England fell by 2.5%, losing 712 full-time equivalent...