Features August 2005 Issue

Fight Bone Loss and OA With...Onions?

An onion compound has been found to reduce the loss of bone in laboratory rats. Researchers at the University of Bern, Switzerland, analyzed the chemical components of white onions and determined that the compound responsible for decreasing bone loss is the peptide y-L-glutamyl-trans-S-1-propenyl-L-cysteine sulfoxide (GPCS). The study appeared in a recent issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Investigators exposed the cells of newborn rats to parathyroid hormone to stimulate bone loss. After exposing the treated cells to GPCS, they found that the onion compound dramatically reduced the loss of bone minerals when compared with bone cells that were not similarly exposed.

The findings were important, said the study’s researchers, because the identification of GPCS adds another compound to the list of natural compounds active in the restoration of bone.

It wasn’t known whether GPCS was merely a representative of a family of active compounds or an individual active  compound. Investigators also conceded that more study was needed to determine if GPCS will have a similar effect on humans, how much onion is needed to stem bone loss, and how GPCS interacts with bone cells.