Purdue University Graduate School
Dissertation-Maria Maiz Rodriguez V4.pdf (2.95 MB)

A blueberry-enriched diet may aid in the amelioration of bone loss in the ovariectomized rat model

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posted on 2019-05-15, 19:50 authored by Maria Maiz RodriguezMaria Maiz Rodriguez
Osteoporosis is the most common bone disease in older adults and is characterized by low bone mass and increased fragility. Women are at a higher risk for osteoporosis because of the rapid loss of bone during menopause. The decline of estrogen is accompanied by an increased bone resorption and a decreased bone formation which results in negative bone balance. Due to adverse effects on the uterus, breast and cardiovascular system, hormone replacement therapy has been discouraged. Nutritional strategies for osteoporosis prevention are being sought. It has been suggested that (poly)phenol-rich fruits may have bone protective effects. Blueberries are one of the richest sources of (poly)phenols, thus the aim of this dissertation was to determine whether a blueberry-enriched diet could aid in bone loss prevention in the ovariectomized rat model.

There are hundreds of blueberry varieties which differ in (poly)phenol profiles and content. Five blueberry varieties (Ira, Montgomery, SHF2B1-21:3, Onslow and Wild Blueberry) were chosen to assess the bioavailability of its individual (poly)phenols. Bioavailability of individual phenolic metabolites was determined through a pharmacokinetic study in ovariectomized rats. The results showed that Montgomery blueberry had significantly higher bioavailability of malvidin, cyanidin and myricetin metabolites, while Ira had significantly higher bioavailability of quercetin metabolites, thus suggesting that the absorption of blueberry polyphenols and their potential to reach target tissues differed between blueberry varieties.

It is important to assess what is the most appropriate dose of blueberry necessary to exert beneficial effects on bone. To determine the most adequate dose of wild blueberry to prevent bone loss in ovariectomized rats, a randomized crossover study was carried out to assess the effects of four different blueberry doses on net bone calcium retention over a 10-day treatment period. The results showed that the only dose to significantly increase net bone calcium retention by 25.6% (p = 0.0426) was the 5% blueberry diet (% w/w), while the higher doses of 10% and 15% had no effect on net bone calcium retention. This informed the last study where Montgomery blueberry and wild blueberry at a 5% dose (% w/w) were chosen to investigate the effects of an 8-week chronic feeding study on calcium metabolism, kinetics, bone microarchitecture and strength and polyphenol metabolism and distribution. A chronic consumption of the wild blueberry resulted in a trend towards minimal trabecular bone loss protection in comparison to the control diet (p=0.08). Kinetic modeling of calcium showed that the Montgomery blueberry had anabolic effects on bone through significantly increasing calcium absorption and bone deposition. The phenolic metabolism differed among blueberry varieties due to each berry’s polyphenol content and profiles and a chronic consumption of blueberry resulted in significant changes in absorption and metabolism of polyphenols. The bone marrow was investigated to determine whether there was any accumulation of phenolic acids in the tissue. Hippuric acid accumulation was significantly higher with the Montgomery blueberry treatments in comparison to control diet. Interestingly, hippuric acid content in the bone marrow was significantly and positively correlated with bone deposition calculated from kinetic modeling. Although no differences were observed on bone mineral density, strength, and microarchitecture, previous studies with a duration of 12-14 weeks have shown significant protection of a blueberry-enriched diet on bone mineral density. Because our study showed a trend for increased trabecular bone (p = 0.08) with the blueberry treatments, we conclude that an 8-week treatment was insufficient time to detect significant differences between the control and blueberry treatments. Since previous researchers before us have reported significant attenuation to bone loss immediately after OVX, it is possible that blueberry that in our study, blueberry was unable to rescue bone once lost after ovariectomy.

A blueberry-enriched diet resulted in a minimal protection to bone after stabilized to OVX, but showed significant increases in calcium absorption and bone turnover in ovariectomized rats. Colonic metabolite profiles from the chronic consumption of blueberry significantly changed over time, thus providing an insight into the effects of blueberry consumption on polyphenol metabolism.


1 R01 AT008754-01


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Nutrition Science

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Connie M. Weaver

Additional Committee Member 2

Mario G. Ferruzzi

Additional Committee Member 3

Teresita Bellido

Additional Committee Member 4

George McCabe

Additional Committee Member 5

John Burgess

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