Vitamin D is renowned for its role in creating strong bones and is a key regulator of serum calcium levels. Calcium is primarily obtained through diet and absorbed through the intestine and into the blood stream. In addition to building bone, calcium is required for a variety of important physiological processes. Vitamin D, which is detected by receptors in bone and intestinal cells, regulates the level of calcium in the blood stream and determines how much should be stored in the skeleton. Several recent clinical trials have examined the effects of vitamin D supplements on the prevention of bone fractures in the elderly; however, the results of these trials have not offered a consensus on the efficacy of these supplements. In this month's issue of JCI, Dr. Geert Carmeliet and colleagues at the University of Leuven in Leuven, Belgium, investigated how vitamin D affects the skeleton when serum calcium levels are depleted.
A research team at Tulane University will report this week that the application of high levels of oxygen to a severed bone facilitates bone regrowth, study results that may one day hold promise for injured soldiers, diabetics and other accident victims. The results of the Department of Defense-funded study were presented at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology annual meeting, held in conjunction with the Experimental Biology conference in San Diego. "One out of every 200 Americans is an amputee, " emphasizes Mimi Sammarco, who led the study at Tulane. "This number is expected to double in the next 40 years and is of particular concern given that amputation injuries have increased considerably due to combat casualties and the increasing amputation issues associated with the rise in diabetes and other related diseases.
Scientists at the University of Sheffield have discovered new ways to help detect and treat the debilitating brittle bone disease osteoporosis. According to a scientific study published in the European Journal of Human Genetics, women with a faulty gene have lower bone mass and lose nearly 10 times more bone than women who have a correct copy of a receptor for the energy molecule ATP- (the P2X7 receptor). Osteoporosis is a devastating condition that affects half of all women and a fifth of men over 50 in the UK. The disease can reduce quality of life and more than a 100, 000 people die each month because they are not diagnosed and treated early enough. Dr Alison Gartland from the University of Sheffield, who is leading the research which is funded by Arthritis Research UK, said: "This research is really important as it may help identify women who are at more risk of developing bone diseases such as osteoporosis.
The culprit behind a failed hip or knee replacements might be found in the mouth. DNA testing of bacteria from the fluid that lubricates hip and knee joints had bacteria with the same DNA as the plaque from patients with gum disease and in need of a joint replacement. This study is one of many coming from the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine that have linked oral bacteria to health problems when they escape from the mouth and enter the blood. Working with University Hospitals Case Medical Center researchers, the dental, orthopedic and arthritis researchers suggest it might be the reason why aseptic loosening or prosthetic wear of the artificial joints fail within 10 years when no infection appears to be present. The pilot study's findings were reported in the April issue of the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology.
In order to accurately identify skulls as male or female, forensic anthropologists need to have a good understanding of how the characteristics of male and female skulls differ between populations. A new study from North Carolina State University shows that these differences can be significant, even between populations that are geographically close to one another. The researchers looked at the skulls of 27 women and 28 men who died in Lisbon, Portugal, between 1880 and 1975. They also evaluated the skulls of 40 women and 39 men who died between 1895 and 1903 in the rural area of Coimbra, just over 120 miles north of Lisbon. The researchers found significant variation between female skulls from Lisbon and those from Coimbra. "The differences were in the shape of the skull, not the size, " says Dr.