Methods to treat age-related osteoporosis could be developed with the help of a protein discovered by scientists at Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Japan.
Osteoporosis is characterized by reduced bone mass and increased risk of fracture - an imbalance created by decrease in formation of bone forming osteoblast cells from mesenchymal cells upon aging. Instead, these cells form more fat cells.
Hiroshi Takayanagi and colleagues found that the gene regulatory protein Maf promoted mesenchymal cell generation of osteoblasts and suppress their generation of fat cells.
On the other hand, mice lacking Maf showed delayed bone formation. Furthermore, Maf levels were found to decrease in mouse mesenchymal cells upon aging and to be reduced by increased oxidative stress, something that occurs upon aging.
Scientists believe that these data could lead to new approaches to treat age-related osteoporosis.