Osteoporosis, a disease characterized by progressive bone loss, is one of the most common complications of aging. The disease is known to affect approximately 50% of women in the United States that are over the age of 65 (1). The annual health treatment costs are exceeding rapidly and are projected to exceed $250 billion dollars within the next 50 years (1). Obesity, which can be defined as an excess of body fat, is another severe disease affecting millions of people. It was statistically shown that 60% of adult Americans are overweight and obesity and diabetes threaten approximately 30% of the population (2). Today, more than 1.1 billion adults worldwide are overweight, and 312 million of them are obese (3). Obesity and diabetes together combine to consume more than $150 billion in health service costs (2).
The above figure shows the prevalence of obesity among children and adolescents in the U.S. The increase in obesity rates is significant among kids and adolescents of ages between 12 and 19 years old. The increase almost doubled from one decade to the following, which shows the rapid climb of obesity rates in the U.S. among children and adolescents aged 12-19 years old (4).
Effect of Mechanical Signals on Mesenchymal Stem Cell Differentiation
Luu et. al. Vol 4, pp. 132-149 (2009)
The schematic shown above is a representation of the potential of mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) in the bone marrow. The development of mature cells such as adipocytes and osteoblasts proceeds through progenitor cells. Mechanical biasing of MSC lineage selection suggest that physical signals influence the quantity of both bone and fat (1). The mechanical signals have been reported to influence the differentiation of MSC to become osteoblasts rather than adipocytes (1). In other words, the biasing of MSC differentiation by these mechanical signals represents a unique means in which adiposity can be inhibited while simultaneously promoting bone quality, better skeleton. Rubin has shown in his clinical studies the effect of these mechanical signals, delivered via an oscillating plate, on bone and fat as described above.
1. Luu, Y.K., Pessin, J.E., Judex, S., Rubin, J. & Rubin, C.T. (2009). Mechanical signals as a non-invasive way to influence mesenchymal stem cell fate, promoting bone and suppressing the fat phenotype. Int. Soc. Bone & Mineral Res. Bone-Key 6:132-149.
2. Rubin et.al. Adipogenesis is inhibited by brief daily exposure of high-frequency, extremely low-magnitude mechanical signals. Proceedings of the National Academy Sciences (2007).
3. Hossain et.al. Obesity and diabetes in the developing world- a growing challenge. The New England Journal of Medecine. pp. 213-125 (2007).