Plant active ingredient against osteoporosis and arthritis

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Herbal magnolia ingredient could protect against osteoporosis and arthritis

Scientists at the University of Bern have discovered a herbal active ingredient that is said to protect against osteoporosis and arthritis. Like the researchers around Professor Dr. Jürg Gertsch from the national research focus "TransCure" at the University of Bern in the current issue of the journal "Chemistry & Biology" can report that an active ingredient derived from magnolia can significantly reduce bone loss and thus prevent osteoporosis or arthritis disease relatively efficiently.

The scientists used a molecule of magnolia to produce a synthetic active substance from which they wanted to take a closer look at the bone-forming processes in the human organism. In the course of the study, however, the synthetic active ingredient showed an unexpected side effect: the formation of bone-degrading cells, the so-called osteoclasts, was blocked. Since an excess of osteoclasts is considered to be an essential risk factor for the development of arthritis and osteoporosis, the active ingredient in magnolia could “serve as lead substances for new drugs in the treatment of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis”, reports Prof. Dr. Jürg Gertsch.

Bone breakdown by osteoclasts According to the scientists, osteoclasts are associated with the body's own cannabinoids and are formed in the bone marrow. The multinucleated cells essentially serve for the resorption of bone substance, whereby the new synthesis of osteoblasts, which are required to build up bone tissue, is also promoted. Bone breakdown and bone build-up are usually in equilibrium, so that the structure of the bones is not weakened by the processes but renewed and strengthened. With a significant excess of osteoclasts, however, this can cause a significant weakening of the bones, which in the worst case results in osteoporosis or arthritis, the experts report. The precise molecular mechanism underlying the build-up of osteoclasts and bone loss has so far remained unclear, according to Prof. Gertsch and colleagues. However, the scientists at the University of Bern have now been able to demonstrate in their study how the body's own cannabinoids promote the formation of osteoclasts in the human organism.

Plant active ingredient can prevent osteoporosis and arthritis According to the researchers at the University of Bern, the cannabinoid receptor CB2 plays a key role in the formation of bone-degrading cells. The CB2 receptors on immature immune cells are activated by the body's own cannabinoids, causing the immune cells to develop into osteoclasts. Blocking the receptors would prevent the cannabinoids from docking and the immune cells would not mature into osteoclasts, Prof. reports. In this way, the bone breakdown, which is considered to be the cause of arthritis and osteoporosis, could also be stopped, according to the experts. This is where the newly discovered active ingredient synthesized from magnolias appears. As Prof. Jürgen Gertsch and colleagues report, the “synthesized molecules block the formation of osteoclasts”. This effect was first discovered in a plant substance, the experts explained. Prof. Gertsch added that the active ingredient of the magnolia has the potential to "lead substances for new drugs in the treatment of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis". A psychoactive effect similar to marijuana is not to be feared, even if the structure of the magnolia active ingredient is similar to the cannabinoids of the intoxicant, the scientists at the University of Bern emphasized.

In general, according to the scientists, the risk of osteoporosis and arthritis joint disease increases with age. The health consequences should not be underestimated. Osteoporosis patients are at risk of fractures at the slightest occasion, with vertebral body collapses, fractures of the thighs, pelvic fractures and fractures of the arm bones being recorded relatively frequently. As the course of the disease progresses, the patients are increasingly restricted in their mobility and often suffer from considerable pain. Arthritis patients are also significantly limited in their ability to move and suffer from chronic joint pain, which increases with movement. According to the scientists, the spread of the two clinical pictures has increased significantly in recent years, but an efficient plant-based active ingredient could possibly put an end to this trend. (fp)

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Image: Angelina Ströbel /

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