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Finally, scientists can reverse the changes that affect bones in old age

T + NS – normal size

As we age, our bones become thinner and we are more likely to develop diseases such as osteoporosis, and one of the mechanisms responsible for this is the poor function of bone marrow stem cells.

Finally, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Aging and the University of Cologne have been able to reverse these changes in isolated stem cells by adding the chemical compound acetate, and they now hope that this source of youth will become important in treating diseases such as osteoporosis.

According to the American “Patterr’s Side” website, researchers had found that the decline in stem cell function with age is due to changes in what they call “epigenome.” As they looked at epigenetics, they found that one possibility was changes in proteins called histones that control access to DNA.

A research group in Cologne, led by Peter Tessars, studied mesenchymal stem cells in the bone marrow, which can give rise to chondrocytes, bone and fat cells. It turns out that the “epigenome” changes dramatically with age, and that genes important for bone production are particularly affected.


On the impact, the researchers treated stem cells isolated from the bone marrow of mice with a nutrient solution containing “sodium acetate”, considering that the cell converts acetate into a building block so that enzymes can bind to histones to increase access to genes, and thus enhance their activity. According to the researchers, this treatment led to the renewal of the activity of the “epi-genome”, the improvement of the activity of stem cells, and the increase in the production of bone cells.

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To clarify whether this “epigenome” change could also be a cause of an increased risk of bone fractures, the researchers studied bone marrow stem cells from patients after hip surgery. The cells of elderly patients who also suffered from osteoporosis showed the same epigenetic changes observed in mice. .

therapeutic approach

Peter Tessars explains: “The chemical compound sodium acetate is available as a food additive, however it is not recommended for use in this form against osteoporosis, as the effect we have observed is in certain cells. However, there are already first trials with stem cell therapies for osteoporosis. This acetate treatment can also work, however, we still need to investigate in detail the effect on the whole organism in order to rule out potential risks and side effects.”