The bone loss in old age often leads to fractures and bone diseases such as Osteoporosis occur due to aging bone marrow stem cells more often. However, these are very important for maintaining bone integrity. German aging researchers at the Max Planck Institute have now shown that the reduced stem cell function in old age is due to changes in their epigenome. They were able to reverse these changes in isolated stem cells by adding acetate. This rejuvenation of the epigenome could therefore enable a new type of treatment for bone loss in old age in the near future.
How sodium acetate affects stem cells in bone loss in old age
The Cologne research group examined the epigenome of mesenchymal stem cells to find out whether they are suitable for different types of tissue such as cartilage and fat cells. The researchers also wanted to know why these stem cells produce less material for building and maintaining bones with increasing age. As a result, more and more fat accumulates in the bone marrow. They observed that the epigenome changes significantly with bone loss with age. Genes that are important for bone structure are particularly affected. The researchers then examined whether the epigenome of stem cells could be rejuvenated. To do this, they treated isolated stem cells from the bone marrow of laboratory mice with a nutrient solution containing sodium acetate. This treatment caused impressive rejuvenation of the epigenome, improved stem cell activity and increased bone cell production.
To clarify whether this change in the epigenome could also be the cause of the increased risk of bone fractures or osteoporosis in humans in old age, the researchers examined human mesenchymal stem cells from patients after hip operations. The cells of older patients who also suffered from osteoporosis showed the same epigenetic changes as before in the mice. Sodium acetate is also available as a dietary supplement. However, it is not advisable to use it in this form against osteoporosis, as the effect observed is very specific for certain cells. Experience with stem cell therapies for osteoporosis has already shown that this acetate works. However, the authors must this study examine the effects on the entire organism more closely in order to exclude possible risks and side effects.