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J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2018 Jul;63(1):42-49. doi: 10.3164/jcbn.17-86. Epub 2018 May 25.

β-Carotene prevents bone loss in hind limb unloading mice.

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Department of Food Function and Labeling, National Institute of Health and Nutrition, National Institutes of Biomedical Innovation, Health and Nutrition, 1-23-1 Toyama, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 162-8636, Japan.
Department of Applied Biology and Chemistry, Faculty of Applied Bioscience, Tokyo University of Agriculture, 1-1-1 Sakuragaoka, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 156-8502, Japan.


β-Carotene has been reported to be useful to maintain a positive balance of bone turnover. However, the effects of β-carotene on bone loss remain to be elucidated in mice with hind limb unloading. Therefore, we investigated whether β-carotene prevented bone loss induced by skeletal hind limb unloading in mice. Female 8-week-old ddY mice were divided into six groups (n = 6-8 each) and subjected to: (1) normal housing, (2) sham unloading fed a control diet, (3) hind limb unloading fed a control diet, (4) hind limb unloading fed a 0.025% β-carotene-containing diet, (5) hind limb unloading fed a 0.05% β-carotene-containing diet, and (6) hind limb unloading fed a 0.25% β-carotene-containing diet. After 3 weeks, bone mineral density of the tibia was markedly reduced by unloading, which was prevented by 0.025% β-carotene. Histological analysis revealed a hind limb unloading-induced decrease in the calcified bone of the femur, which was slightly prevented by 0.025% β-carotene. The 0.025% β-carotene-containing diet increased the gene expression of osteoprotegerin in the bone marrow cells in unloading mice. These results suggest that a β-carotene-containing diet may preserve bone health in subjects with disabilities as well as in astronauts.


β-carotene; bone mineral density; calcified bone; hind limb unloading; osteoprotegerin

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