Going Green (Tea): Researcher Awarded $1.5 Million
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Going Green (Tea): Researcher Awarded $1.5 Million

The grant from the National Institutes of Health will help develop complementary and alternative medicine intervention for bone health.

Written by Suzanna Cisneros

Evidence has shown an association between green tea consumption and the prevention of bone loss in the elderly.

Evidence has shown an association between green tea consumption and the prevention of bone loss in the elderly.

Osteoporosis is a major health issue in postmenopausal women. The National Institutes of Health awarded a $1,585,149 grant to Leslie Shen, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Medicine Department of Pathology, for her study, “Preparation for GTP Long-Term Clinical Study on Bone Health.”

The long-term goal of the study is to develop complementary and alternative medicine intervention including dietary supplements such as green tea polyphenols for bone health.

Osteoporosis, or porous bone, means bones have lost density or mass. As your bones become less dense, they become weaker, Shen said. Throughout life, a person is constantly breaking down old bone and replacing it with new bone.

“Menopause can cause damage to your bones,” Shen said. “During menopause, estrogen levels in your body drop and estrogen plays an important role in bone health. Estrogen keeps the osteoclasts in check, allowing the osteoblasts to build more bone. Unless the estrogen you lose is being replaced, your bones can become thin and brittle.”

Evidence has shown an association between green tea consumption and the prevention of bone loss in the elderly. Ingestion of green tea and green tea bioactive compounds may be beneficial in reducing bone loss of this population and decreasing the risk of osteoporotic fractures. Shen said her previous studies and pilot human study have confirmed the bone protection of green tea. This study will see if long-term green tea intake can benefit musculoskeletal health.

The goal of the preparation study is to find the optimal dose for short-term green tea intake that shows benefit in postmenopausal women with low bone mass.

“We assume that green tea at an optimal dose would favor bone formation and slow down bone resorption or destruction of the bone,” Shen said. “Then we will use this dose of green tea intake in our next long-term study to show the potential musculoskeletal benefit in the same population.”

Co-investigators for the study are Jia-Sheng Wang, Ph.D., University of Georgia, Xiao Song, Ph.D., University of Georgia. Collaborators from TTUHSC inclulde Marjorie Jenkins, M.D., Gordon Brackee, DVM, and Carol Felton, M.D. Consultants from TTUHSC include Kelly Mitchell, M.D., Dale Dunn, M.D., and Barbara Pence, Ph.D., and E. Michael Lewiecki, M.D., from the New Mexico Clinical Research and Osteoporosis Center.

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Featured Expert
Leslie Shen

Leslie Shen, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Pathology.

View her profile in our Experts Guide.

School of Medicine
School of Medicine

Since 1969, the School of Medicine has graduated more than 3,000 physicians. The school aims to provide quality lab space, recruit creative, innovative research faculty, and develop graduate students and postdoctoral fellows for lifelong careers in medical research.

Today, more than 20 percent of the practicing physicians in West Texas have graduated from the School of Medicine or its residency programs.