Berries and Bone

Berries and their impact on bone degeneration

In a $3.7 million research grant initiative from the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, researchers at NCSU’s Plants for Human Health Institute are partnering with Purdue University to study how blueberries reduce bone loss in postmenopausal women. Blueberries, in the genus Vaccinium, are polyphenolic-rich plant resources. Previous research in animal models and epidemiological studies show that polyphenolic constituents including flavonoids reduce age-related bone loss. Research on this topic is fairly new with some of the first findings published in 2008.

The LilaLab is working in concert with Connie Weaver, deputy director of the National Institutes of Health-funded Indiana Clinical and Translational Science Institute. and director of Purdue’s Women’s Global Health Institute. Also on the team is Mario Ferruzzi, professor of food science and nutrition science, who is known for his work in bioactive food components and phytochemicals in food and assessing their bioavailability and distribution to body tissues. The project’s collaborators also include George McCabe, professor of statistics, and Elsa Janle, an associate research professor in nutrition science. The partnership also includes investigators from Indiana University School of Medicine, David Burr and Teresito Bellido and Munro Peacock. All are experts in bone health. Burr and Bellido are professors of anatomy and cell biology and Peacock is a professor of medicine.

The first phase focuses on genetic screening, working with NCSU’s blueberry germplasm collection to profile 1,200 genotypes to prioritize those with the most efficaceous content. Other species within the genus Vaccinium, including white blueberry and cranberry, are also examined. The second phase will evaluate the most effective dosage levels in humans.