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OSTEOPOROSIS: More Than Bones?

Updated: Mar 16, 2023

Osteoporosis is often thought as a condition that affects the bones of women with age. As the condition progresses, bone loses mineral composition, becoming weak and brittle. Without intervention and enough mineral loss, a fracture becomes inevitable. What if osteoporosis is more than bones? What if osteoporosis has ties to the gastrointestinal tract (and even the immune system)?

The hormone estrogen is vital for maintaining bone mineral density of the skeletal system especially estradiol also known as E2. E2 protects the remodeling of bones by preventing inflammatory proteins known as cytokines from breaking down the bone matrix [1]. As women age, estrogen naturally decreases. This estrogen deficiency may be a driver in systemic low-grade inflammation, leading to bone loss over time [2]. Researchers are only now beginning to understand how the immune system plays a role in bone health, in fact this has given rise to a new field known as ‘osteoimmunology’ [3].

What can be done about osteoporosis? The best intervention is prevention! This includes yearly wellness check ups, eating a healthy diet, and regular exercise (especially weight bearing exercises such as free weights). Another preventative strategy is to look for the underlying cause, which includes finding and reducing sources of chronic inflammation. Two common sources of inflammation include hormone imbalance as well as poor digestive health. In fact a recent study from several months ago is suggesting that gut dysbiosis may play a significant role in bone mineral loss [4]. In other words, ‘happy gut, happy bones’!

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  1. Chen P, Li B and Ou-Yang L (2022) Role of estrogen receptors in health and disease. Front. Endocrinol. 13:839005. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2022.839005

  2. Livshits G, Kalinkovich A. Targeting chronic inflammation as a potential adjuvant therapy for osteoporosis. Life Sci. 2022 Oct 1;306:120847. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2022.120847. Epub 2022 Jul 28. PMID: 35908619.

  3. Wu D, Cline-Smith A, Shashkova E, Perla A, Katyal A and Aurora R (2021) T-Cell Mediated Inflammation in Postmenopausal Osteoporosis. Front. Immunol. 12:687551. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2021.687551.

  4. He Y, Chen Y. The potential mechanism of the microbiota-gut-bone axis in osteoporosis: a review. Osteoporos Int. 2022 Sep 28. doi: 10.1007/s00198-022-06557-x. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 36169678.


This information is generalized and intended for educational purposes only. Due to potential individual contraindications, please see your primary care provider before implementing any strategies in these posts.



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