Quenching Senescent Cells Can Reverse Age-Related Bone Loss

Discovery Suggests New and Better Approach to Osteoporosis Treatment

Researchers from Mayo Clinic report that targeting senescent cells—cells that are associated with aging and age-related disease—can reverse bone loss and promote an increase in bone mass and strength. Their work with mouse models may open a path to the development of new and more effective treatments for osteoporosis, a condition affecting some 44 million Americans over age 50. Sundeep Khosla, MD, director of the Aging Bone and Muscle program at Mayo Clinic’s Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging, commented, “The novelty of this work for the bone field lies in the fact that, rather than targeting a bone-specific pathway, as is the case for all current treatments for osteoporosis, we targeted a fundamental aging process that has the potential to improve not only bone mass, but also alleviate other age-related conditions as a group.” The findings are published online in Nature Medicine.

Working with mice who were equivalent in age to 70+ year old humans, the researchers found that 3 different approaches to eliminating senescent cells were equally effective in reducing bone resorption while maintaining or enhancing bone formation. They also found that the beneficial effects were realized even with intermittent administration of the treatment, meaning a reduced profile for medication associated adverse effects, according to the authors. By contrast, current osteoporosis treatments, while reducing bone resorption, also decrease bone formation. Dr. Khosla noted that worldwide population demographics point to an escalation of the health crisis of age-related bone loss, and that patients with osteoporosis are at risk for other age-related comorbidities.

Read a news story about the research findings.

The journal abstract may be read here.

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