Findings may translate to a safe intervention for older women at risk of osteoporosis.
Sesame oil supplementation may help to prevent older women from developing postmenopausal osteoporosis, according to findings from a recent study that evaluated supplementation in rats who received ovariectomy (OVX). The data, published in Scientific Reports, suggests that sesame oil increased the animals’ aromatase levels and serum estradiol levels, which may contribute to the prevention of osteoporosis.
“Increased serum aromatase levels might be one of the mechanisms responsible for maintaining estradiol levels in sesame oil-treated OVX rats,” wrote study authors in the article.
Postmenopausal osteoporosis is a condition that leads to low bone mineral density (BMD). Low BMD may be caused by an imbalance in osteoblast and osteoclast activities, which may be caused by estrogen deficiency associated with hormone changes.
Postmenopausal osteoporosis also increases the risk of fragility fractures and reduces quality of life for older women. Current treatment options include hormone replacement therapy (HRT), but there are concerns that HRT increases the risk of breast cancer.
Researchers conducted this study to better understand how, mechanistically, a daily supplement of sesame oil can benefit OVX-treated rats with postmenopausal osteoporosis, evaluating a daily dose of sesame oil (0.25 or 0.5 mL/kg/day) for 4 months.
They observed that the supplement significantly increased aromatase levels, which can help with the conversion of androgen to estrogen, wrote authors. And ample serum estrogen levels may decrease risk of osteoporosis by slowing down bone turnover.
The team also observed that sesame oil supplementation reduced serum alkaline phosphatase (ALP) levels—ALP is higher in rats with osteoporosis, and it is also higher in women who are postmenopausal. Further, sesame oil increase BMD, serum osteocalcin, procollagen-I C-terminal propeptide (PICP), and decreased collagen cross-linked N-telopeptide (NTx).
“Taken together, these results suggest that sesame oil may help maintain a balance between osteoblast and osteoclast activity, which could play a significant role in the prevention of osteoporosis associated with sesame oil,” authors wrote.
Authors also make note of the role of the gut microbiota (GM) in osteoporosis—it is possible that GM imbalances could be linked to lower BMD. Taking a probiotic of strains Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium could prevent bone loss, and Lactobacillus-fermented products might benefit bone health in OVX rats.
Sesame oil is actually a mixture of fatty acids, lignans, and antioxidants that is derived from Sesamumindicum L. Previous studies also suggest that it can be osteoprotective, however few of these studies actually focused on its protective nature with postmenopausal osteoporosis. Future studies could assess the signaling pathway that sesame oil impacts to increase BMD.
There are limitations to this study, which include not evaluating the effects of sesame oil on a major pathway involved in bone remodeling, and not evaluating the rats’ baseline BMD.
Authors conclude that “these findings suggest a promising therapeutic potential for preventing postmenopausal osteoporosis in the future.”
Hsu, CC., Ko, PY., Kwan, TH. et al. Daily supplement of sesame oil prevents postmenopausal osteoporosis via maintaining serum estrogen and aromatase levels in rats. Sci Rep 14. 2024; doi:10.1038/s41598-023-50453-1