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Stronger bones and less fat: New metabolic protein identified
Around six million people in Germany suffer from osteoporosis. The disease, also known as "bone loss", is often accompanied by an accumulation of adipose tissue. Researchers have now identified a protein that promotes bone formation and at the same time reduces fat accumulation.
One of the most common diseases worldwide
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), osteoporosis is one of the ten most common diseases worldwide. Around six million people suffer from it in Germany alone. The disease mainly affects older people, especially women. Men are relatively less affected by bone loss. Osteoporosis is often accompanied by an accumulation of adipose tissue. German researchers have now identified a protein that promotes bone formation and at the same time reduces fat accumulation.
Increased bone loss and reduced bone build-up
When bones break under normal stress or minor injuries, one speaks of osteoporosis or "bone loss".
This disease leads to increased bone loss and, at the same time, reduced bone build-up. As a result, the bones become increasingly rotten and can break more easily.
The formation of bones and fat depends very much on each other. Both tissues are formed by common progenitor cells, the so-called mesenchymal stem cells. These can either develop into bone-building cells or into fat cells.
Factors that support the formation of adipose tissue simultaneously inhibit the build-up of bone and thereby reduce the quality of the bone. The identification of such factors is important in order to develop new methods for the treatment of osteoporosis or obesity.
Improve bone quality
According to a message, scientists from Leipzig University Medicine and Dresden University Hospital have now identified a new protein that controls exactly this interaction.
As the research results published in the journal "Science Translational Medicine" show, the protein (CD90 / Thy-1) supports bone formation and at the same time inhibits adipose tissue formation.
According to the information, mice that lack this protein actually have significantly poorer bone quality and are getting fatter.
The researchers were also able to show that patients with reduced bone quality, but also overweight patients, have a significantly lower serum level of this CD90 / Thy-1 protein than healthy people.
Further studies are now to show whether this factor can be used as a new target structure to improve bone quality in obesity or as a marker for early diagnosis of bone loss.
According to health experts, prevention of osteoporosis is generally recommended before the bones shrink. The best protection against the disease is still a healthy lifestyle that at least avoids the influenceable risk factors.
Three measures in particular can help prevent or at least delay bone loss: A calcium-rich diet, regular exercise and sufficient vitamin D.
In order to strengthen the bones, it is especially important to consume sufficient calcium - and this at a young age. This mineral is found in numerous foods.
Dairy products are often highlighted as good sources of calcium. However, the "Osteoporosis Self-Help Groups Dachverband e.V." (OSD) on its website points out that "a high protein content in the diet leads to calcium loss".
And: "The frequent consumption of animal proteins through dairy products, eggs and meat leads to chronic acidification of the organism," said the experts.
It is therefore questionable whether dairy products are really health-promoting and optimal calcium suppliers.
According to other experts, the important mineral should be better absorbed through vegetables such as broccoli, fennel or kale, nuts, soy products or calcium-containing mineral water.
Beware of the calcium predator phosphate. This can be found particularly in sausages, in cola drinks or in the preservatives of ready meals.
Vitamin D supply and regular exercise
Vitamin D is also extremely important for preventing osteoporosis.
The so-called sun vitamin is formed by the human body itself when there is sufficient sun exposure, but it may be necessary to artificially supply vitamin D with low exposure to sunlight.
In addition, sporting activities should not be missing. Because sufficient movement enables the bones to optimally store calcium.
According to health experts, care should be taken to choose sports that put pressure on the bones.
Among other things, light gymnastics, Nordic walking, hiking, cross-country skiing or cycling are suitable.
According to the OSD, swimming is good for endurance and the heart and circulatory system, is easy on the ligaments and joints, but does not strain the bones. It is therefore less suitable as a prophylaxis and to support osteoporosis therapy. (ad)