Bones restored with dried plum in aging mice

Oct 06, 2010 By Steve Tokar

A diet supplemented with powdered dried plum restored bone lost by mice during the course of normal aging, in a study led by a researcher at the San Francisco VA Medical Center.

“This may be the first natural product we have identified that is capable of restoring bone that’s been lost due to aging,” says principal investigator Bernard P. Halloran, PhD, a senior research scientist at SFVAMC and an adjunct professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

“As we age, we all lose bone, and over half of all people age 50 and older develop osteoporosis, a disease where the bone becomes weak and easily fractures,” explains Halloran. “Many will suffer painful hip and spine fractures. Current medications, for the most part, can only slow the rate of bone loss. We do not have an easy-to-use drug today that can put back bone that’s been already lost.”

Halloran’s study, which appears online in The Journal of Nutrition, was inspired by previous animal studies indicating that powdered dried plum might be effective in preventing post-menopausal osteoporosis.

The researchers, including senior author Brenda Smith, PhD, of Oklahoma State University, looked at a cohort of normal adult laboratory mice, with an age equivalent to that of middle-aged people, and a cohort of elderly mice, with an age equivalent to people aged 60 to 70. Each age cohort was divided into three groups. One group was fed a supplement of 25 percent dried plum by weight, another group was fed a diet of 15 percent dried plum by weight, and the third group was given no supplement. “Their diets were absolutely the same otherwise,” notes Halloran, “so any difference we observed in bone could only be attributed to the dried plum.”

At the end of six months, the mice that were given no dried plum lost bone, while both the adult and elderly mice given 25 percent dried plum showed significant increase in bone – 85 percent in the adult mice and 50 percent in the elderly mice. Adult mice given 15 percent dried plum also showed an increase in bone, but the elderly mice did not.

“What we’ve done is not just prevent the loss of bone with aging – we’ve actually put bone back,” says Halloran. “Whatever is in dried plum may prove to be an effective therapy for osteoporosis.”

Halloran cautions that dried plum’s mechanism of action is not known, but notes that plums are known to be very high in antioxidants, which have been reported in previous studies to slow loss of bone.

The next logical step, says Halloran, would be human studies. However, “feeding people a diet of 25 percent dried plum powder by weight just isn’t practical, so it’s essential that we isolate the active ingredients,” he says. Halloran and his team are currently conducting studies to do that, as well as to analyze the nature of the that has been restored in the , “since we don’t know how strong it is, or how brittle.”

Explore further: Researchers "smell" new receptors that could underlie the many actions of the anesthetic drug ketamine

Related Stories

Broken bones and medication

Oct 05, 2010

Although one in four women over 50 develops osteoporosis, most are unaware they have the disease — something Professor Suzanne Cadarette would like to change.

Prevention still the best medicine

Oct 05, 2010

Although the debate continues about the screening and treatment of illnesses such as breast cancer, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease, there is one fundamental piece of advice all physicians agree on: ...

Are we getting enough vitamin D?

Oct 04, 2010

Researchers at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) are on a mission to find out if we need to supplement our diet with vitamin D.

Recommended for you

Computer model predicts how our livers will store fat

5 hours ago

As part of an effort to understand how an experimental drug for atherosclerosis causes the build-up of fat in the liver, scientists have developed a computer model that can predict how the rate at which liver stores fat in ...

Researchers identify "beige" fat-burning cells in humans

13 hours ago

For the first time, a research team, led by a UC San Francisco biologist, has isolated energy-burning "beige" fat from adult humans, which is known to be able to convert unhealthy white fat into healthy brown ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (1) Oct 06, 2010
They're known as prunes. Don't buy into the industry's rebranding tactic.
not rated yet Oct 12, 2010
Wonder if this article is a result of a (re)branding tactic.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.