UAMS Osteoporosis Research Findings Published in Nature Communications

By Ben Boulden

Findings from a research effort led by Maria Almeida, Ph.D., an associate professor and researcher in the UAMS Center for Osteoporosis and Metabolic Bone Diseases, are published in the April edition of the scientific journal Nature Communications.

The research team includes Stavros Manolagas, M.D., Ph.D., director of the center; Robert Jilka, Ph.D.; Elena Ambrogini, M.D.; Robert Weinstein, M.D.; Haibo Zhao, M.D., Ph.D.; Charles  O’Brien, Ph.D.; Shoshana Bartell; Ha-Neui Kim; Li Han; and Serra Ucer.

The researchers used several mouse models with modified proteins so osteoclasts, the cells responsible for the resorption of bone, generate less reactive oxygen chemicals, also called reactive oxygen species. Bone resorption occurs when osteoclast cells break down the mineralized matrix to allow for old bone to be replaced with new one.

“We’ve shown that reactive oxygen species are important for the formation of osteoclasts and to control bone mass,” Almeida said. “Our findings indicate that if you can lower reactive oxygen species, then you can increase bone mass because you decrease the resorption of the bone.”

In the next phase of her research, Almeida and the other researchers will seek to learn more about how the reactive oxygen species control bone cells. Using antioxidants to reduce the presence of the species in osteoclasts can have negative side effects on other cells in the body. A better understanding of how reactive oxygen species work may enable future researchers to devise better treatments for osteoporosis with fewer side effects.

“We are looking for something that will work besides antioxidants that most of the cells can tolerate and that will still work to reduce these reactive oxygen species — a pill you can take to stop aging,” Almeida said. “During the aging process, common disease mechanisms can affect different organs like the brain, heart, liver and bones. We want to understand these common mechanisms so that by using one specific drug, it’s possible to treat many of these different things that occur with aging — for example, osteoporosis, arteriosclerosis and neural degeneration.”

 



UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; northwest Arkansas regional campus; statewide network of regional centers; and six institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and Translational Research Institute. It is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 2,727 students, 822 medical residents and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses throughout the state, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit www.uams.edu or www.uamshealth.com. Find us on FacebookTwitterYouTube or Instagram.

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