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CLA Helps Maintain Bone Mineral Density

Researchers at the Division of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio have found that conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) helps maintain bone mineral density in mice, possibly through anti-inflammatory actions.

Inflammation exerts a significant influence on bone turnover, inducing the chronic form of osteoporosis. Dietary nutrition has the capacity to modulate inflammatory response. Therefore, nutritional strategies and lifestyle changes may prevent age-related osteoporosis, thereby improving the quality of life of the elderly population. In past studies, CLA—which is derived from milk, cheese and meat and has been well studied for its role in weight management—has positively influenced calcium and bone metabolism.

Consequently, researchers undertook the current study to examine CLA’s effect on bone mineral density (BMD) in middle-aged female mice. After 10 weeks, CLA-fed mice maintained a higher BMD in different bone regions compared to corn-oil-fed mice. The increased BMD was accompanied by a decreased activity of proinflammatory cytokines (such as tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin-6 and the receptor activator of NF-kappaB ligand) and decreased function of the bone-destroying cells known as osteoclasts. In addition, a significant decrease in fat mass and an increase in muscle mass were also observed in CLA-fed mice compared to corn-oil-fed mice.

The researchers concluded, “these findings suggest that CLA may prevent the loss of bone and muscle mass by modulating markers of inflammation and osteoclastogenic factors.”


Rahman MM, Bhattacharya A, Banu J, Fernandes G. Conjugated linoleic acid protects against age-associated bone loss in C57BL/6 female mice. J Nutr Biochem. 2006 Sep 21.[Epub ahead of print].

Key concepts: cla, conjugated linoleic acid, body fat, bone mineral density