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Lycopene and bone: an in vitro investigation and a pilot prospective clinical study

Journal article
Authors C. Russo
Y. Ferro
S. Maurotti
M. A. Salvati
E. Mazza
R. Pujia
R. Terracciano
G. Maggisano
R. Mare
S. Giannini
Stefano Romeo
A. Pujia
T. Montalcini
Published in Journal of Translational Medicine
Volume 18
Issue 1
ISSN 1479-5876
Publication year 2020
Published at Center for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research (CMR)
Institute of Medicine, Department of Molecular and Clinical Medicine
Language en
Keywords Nutraceutical, Lycopene, Osteoporosis, Bone metabolism, Bone mineral, density, nf-kappa-b, biochemical markers, osteoblast differentiation, postmenopausal women, oxidative stress, mineral density, fracture risk, cancer cells, osteoporosis, ultrasound, Research & Experimental Medicine
Subject categories Molecular medicine, Cardiovascular medicine


Background There are several effective therapies for osteoporosis but these agents might cause serious adverse events. Lycopene intake could prevent bone loss, however studies on its effects on bone are scarce. Our aim was to investigate the effects of lycopene on osteoblast cells as well as bone mineral density and bone turnover markers in postmenopausal women. Methods We investigated the effect of lycopene on the Wnt/beta-catenin and ERK 1/2 pathways, RUNX2, alkaline phosphatase, RANKL and COL1A of Saos-2. We also carried out a pilot controlled clinical study to verify the feasibility of an approach for bone loss prevention through the intake of a lycopene-rich tomato sauce in 39 postmenopausal women. Results Lycopene 10 mu M resulted in higher beta-catenin and phERK1/2 protein Vs the vehicle (p = 0.04 and p = 0.006). RUNX2 and COL1A mRNA was induced by both 5 and 10 mu M doses (p = 0.03; p = 0.03 and p = 0.03; p = 0.05) while RANKL mRNA was reduced (p < 0.05). A significant bone density loss was not detected in women taking the tomato sauce while the control group had bone loss (p = 0.002). Tomato sauce intake resulted in a greater bone alkaline phosphatase reduction than the control (18% vs 8.5%, p = 0.03). Conclusions Lycopene activates the WNT/beta-catenin and ERK1/2 pathways, upregulates RUNX2, alkaline phosphatase, COL1A and downregulates RANKL Saos-2. These processes contributed to prevent bone loss in postmenopausal women.

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