First study to determine the role of fatty acids in preventing post menopausal osteoporosis

This study has found that oleic acid, commonly found in palm oil and olive oil may have a positive effect in combating osteoporosis by enhancing bone formation.

Title of paper: Analysis of fatty acid composition in human bone marrow aspirates
Authors: Ryota Deshimaru, Ken Ishitani, Kazuya Makita, Fumi Horiguchi and Shiro Nozawa

Osteoporosis is a widespread public health problem among post menopausal women because of the association between low bone mass and the occurrence of vertebral and hip fractures.

Bone mass is maintained locally by a balance between bone formation by cells which help in the process of bone formation otherwise known as osteoblasts and bone resorption by osteoclasts, cells which help in the process of bone removal.

Osteoblasts derived from bone marrow stem cells (mesenchymal tissues) replace resorped bone by elaborating matrix which then becomes mineralised. After menopause, bone resorption exceeds bone formation. Consequent bone loss accompanied by an increased volume of adipose or fatty cells in bone marrow may hinder the creation of osteoblasts, thus slowing down the process of bone formation.

Previous studies have documented that dietary fat plays an important role in skeletal biology and bone health. Numerous studies have reported the effects of dietary fat on bone formation. However, little is known about the association between fatty acid composition and the micro environment of human bone marrow, which may influence osteoblastic bone formation. Moreover the effects of fatty acids in bone marrow on osteoblast differentiation are not fully understood.

In order to reveal the mechanism of post menopausal osteoporosis, we analyzed the fatty acid composition of bone marrow aspirates and serum phospholipids in nine patients with hematologic diseases and then examined the effects of fatty acids on osteoblast differentiation using a mouse bone marrow derived tissue cell

The results showed that oleic acid promotes osteoblast differentiation. Oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid is found abundantly in palm oil and olive oil. Mono- or polyunsaturated fatty acids have been shown to have protective effects towards the development of cardiovascular disease; however, the relation between monounsaturated fatty acids and osteoporosis is still unknown

From a clinical standpoint, in order to propose ideal eating habits and dietary recommendations to prevent osteoperosis, it is necessary to determine the role of oleic acid in bone metabolism.

To our knowledge, this is the first study to show differences in fatty acid composition between bone marrow aspirates and serum phospholipids.

Published: 30 Nov 2005


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Keio Journal of Medicine 54(3):132-141, September 2005