The National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health has awarded Xin Li, PhD, a $435,875 grant to study—and potentially prevent—bone loss related to aging.
Osteoporosis and age-related fractures have become major public health issues in
the US, with more than 1.5 million age-related osteoporotic fractures occurring annually. However, the mechanism of how aging-related changes in cellular metabolism lead to compromised bone health is still elusive.
Dr. Li, an associate professor of basic science and craniofacial biology, has been studying succinate, a metabolite that activates the succinate receptor to stimulate the development of osteoclasts (a type of bone cell that breaks down bone tissue) and bone resorption.
Based on her research team's novel finding that aging is associated with elevated succinate levels in bone marrow stromal cells, Dr. Li and her colleagues hypothesize that succinate signaling may play a role in age-related bone diseases and targeting succinate receptor activation could diminish age-related bone loss.
To test their hypothesis, the researchers will use a two-fold approach: rescuing age-related bone loss in animal models by targeting the succinate receptor and identifying a specific signaling pathway in regulating osteoclasts in aging.
"Unravelling the way this metabolite signals will provide a potential therapeutic target to counteract bone loss in aging," said Dr. Li. "The study could be significantly rewarding because of its potential to identify specific protection mechanisms against age-related osteoporosis and fractures, with the future potential of improving bone health and quality of life in older adults."