Common Protein Found to Interfere with Femur Fracture Healing

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October 27, 2019
Edward Smith

Common Protein Found to Interfere with Femur Fracture Healing

Recently, a paper was published by researchers at Duke University who claim that the presence of a common protein may interfere with the healing of broken bones, such as femur fractures. Following a broken bone, there are several key nutrients that are needed to assist in the fracture healing process. These include calcium and vitamin D, which are the essential building blocks of new bone cells. While protein is important in building new lean muscle, the researchers claim that a specific protein, called Apolipoprotein E, might actually interfere with the healing of bone fractures.

Because bone fractures are among the most common injuries that people might sustain, it is important for everyone to understand what goes into the healing process. This was the goal of a team of researchers who meticulously studied Apolipoprotein E.

What is Apolipoprotein E?

Apolipoprotein E is one of the most common proteins in the body. It plays a critical role in the metabolism of various nutrients throughout the body, including fats. Apolipoprotein E assists the body in shuttling fats, lipids, and cholesterols throughout the GI system, helping the body process nutrients and dispose of waste products.

On the other hand, this protein has also been implicated in a number of different diseases. Prior research studies have already confirmed that this protein appears to play a role in the development of heart disease, which is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Apolipoprotein E has also been implicated in the development of Alzheimer’s Disease, one of the leading causes of dementia. Now, it appears that researchers from Duke University might have also implicated this protein in the slowing of fracture healing.

Measuring the Levels of Apolipoprotein E

Broken bones, including femur fractures, are serious injuries. Furthermore, they are also incredibly common, as more than 6 million people in the United States break a bone every year. As people age, bone fractures take longer to heal. Furthermore, they are also prone to developing more complications. As a result, it is important to study ways to increase the speed with which fractures heal. This will get people back on their feet faster and restore important motor functions.

First, the researchers tried to figure out why fractures in elderly individuals take longer to heal. After measuring certain proteins, the researchers found that people over the age of 75 have more than twice the levels of Apolipoprotein E than those under the age of 45. Now, just because there is a difference in the levels of this protein doesn’t mean that this is the exact cause. Correlation does not equal causation.

Proving this Protein is the Link

The next step was to prove that this protein plays a role in the bone fracture healing process. When a bone, such as a femur, is broken, the body transmits signals to start the healing process. Some of these signals will recruit stem cells that will build a scaffold for the new bone. Eventually, these stem cells will become osteoblasts, which are the key builders of fresh bone cells. Osteoblasts will eventually form new, dense bone. After a few months, the fracture healing process is complete.

Of course, this process only works well if the signaling processes perform as intended. The researchers moved these stem cells into a petri dish and watched them develop into mature osteoblasts. The researchers then repeated the process but instead added Apolipoprotein E to the petri dish with the new stem cells. The scientists found that far fewer osteoblasts developed. Furthermore, these osteoblasts did not work as well at building bone.

The researchers claim that Apolipoprotein E halts the signaling process required for bone fracture healing. Because this protein is present in higher levels in elderly individuals, this might explain why the fracture healing process takes longer. Finding ways to block Apolipoprotein E may help individuals who have suffered a femur fracture recover more quickly.

Sacramento Femur Fracture Lawyer 

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento femur fracture lawyer. This common protein might explain why some people have a harder time recovering from a femur fracture than others. If an individual you care about has sustained a major fracture of the femur due to the negligence of another person or entity, please contact me today at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly legal advice.

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Citation of Image: The picture at the top was located first on Pixabay & has been reproduced here with permission from the Creative Commons License.

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