New research has found that people living with type II diabetes and hypertension may face an increased risk of fractures in bones. However, an international team of researchers has discovered a potential bone therapy that could alleviate the problem one day.
The collaborative effort between scientists explored whether hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) could help to reduce the fracture risk in people with type II diabetes. Previous studies have found that 50 to 80% of diabetic patients live with hypertension, and both conditions are linked to a higher risk of bone fractures, which means this population is particularly vulnerable.
HGF is a naturally occurring molecule known to regulate cell growth throughout the body. It is also associated with bone regeneration, remodelling, and the balance between osteoblast and osteoclast. It is not known how HGF can affect the chemical structure of the bones.
The first co-author of the study, Natasha Boyes, said, “Most people think bone should be hard, but hard bone can be very brittle. What you want is bone with the right architecture, and bone is always changing. Any stimulus can cause bone to adjust its structure. For example, if you’re a runner, your bones will change and adapt to better cope with the pounding (biomechanical stress). That’s remodeling.”
Boyes and her team are interested in the whole-body effects of cardiovascular disease and how remodeling is a process that bones undergo throughout a person’s life.
For the study, researchers did site-specific injections of HGF on diabetic hypertensive rats. They then used spectroscopy to study the bone chemical structure with a focus on calcium and phosphorus. The increase in insoluble phosphate in the treated bones indicated that HGF might stimulate the bone into a remodeling phase in response to the effects of hypertension, diabetes, and the drugs used in the treatment.
By understanding the exact chemical structure of the bones, researchers believe a long-term goal is to develop a therapy with HGF to reduce bone fracture risk, especially in people with type II diabetes and hypertension.