Effects of food components and bioactives on murine and human bone cells

Project lead: Dr Magdalena Coetzee

What role do the nutritional aspects of food compounds play in human bone physiology? Dr Magdalena Coetzee and the Cellular Bone Research Division at the Department of Physiology team set out to explore the effects of plant-derived small molecules from indigenous South African teas (Honeybush and Rooibos) and spices on bone health by investigating their effects on cell-signaling pathways and receptors in bone cells. The team worked with colleagues both locally from the Department of Anatomy and Food Science and abroad from the Bone Lab Dresden in Germany, Sheffield University, UK and Massey University, New Zealand.

One part of the study was focused on a molecule derived from Rooibos tea (a polyphenol called Aspalathin) to study the effect of this compound and interaction thereof on osteoblasts (cells that form new bone). In another aspect of the study, team members investigated the pathways and interactions involved in the effects of fatty acids on bone cells.

With osteoporosis becoming more prevalent, the team hopes that their research on nutraceuticals could be valuable in the development of preventative drugs for bone-related conditions such as osteoporosis.

- Author IFNuW

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