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J Med Food. 2003 Summer;6(2):69-78.

Lycopene I--effect on osteoclasts: lycopene inhibits basal and parathyroid hormone-stimulated osteoclast formation and mineral resorption mediated by reactive oxygen species in rat bone marrow cultures.

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  • 1Division of Endocrinology, St. Michael's Hospital, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. leticia.rao@utoronto.ca


Osteoclasts have been shown to produce reactive oxygen species (ROS) that can stimulate bone resorption. We explored the hypothesis that lycopene, the antioxidant carotenoid from tomatoes, can inhibit mineral resorption by inhibiting osteoclast formation and the production of ROS. Cells from bone marrow prepared from rat femur were plated into 16-well calcium phosphate-coated Osteologic Multi-test Slides and cultured in alpha-minimal essential medium supplemented with dexamethasone, beta-glycerophosphate, and ascorbic acid. The cells were treated with varying doses of lycopene in the absence or presence of parathyroid hormone (PTH) at the start of culture and at each medium change (i.e., every 48 hours). On day 8, mineral resorption pits were quantitated. Similar, parallel experiments were carried out in 12-well plastic dishes to assess tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP) activity. Results showed that lycopene inhibited TRAP + formation of multinucleated cells in both vehicle- and PTH-treated cultures. Osteoclasts reduced nitroblue tetrazolium (NBT) to purple-colored formazan, indicating the presence of ROS in these cells. The formazan-staining cells were decreased by treatment with 10(-5) M lycopene, indicating that lycopene inhibited the formation of ROS-secreting osteoclasts. In conclusion, we have shown that lycopene inhibits basal and PTH-stimulated osteoclastic mineral resorption and formation of TRAP + multinucleated osteoclasts, as well as the ROS produced by osteoclasts. These findings are novel and may be important in the pathogenesis, treatment, and prevention of osteoporosis.

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