Milk basic protein: a novel protective function of milk against osteoporosis

Bone. 2000 Sep;27(3):403-8. doi: 10.1016/s8756-3282(00)00332-x.


Milk is recommended as an excellent calcium source for bone health. Moreover, milk is considered to contain other components effective for bone health. In our previous studies, using an unfractionated bone cell culture system, we found that milk whey protein, especially its basic fraction (milk basic protein [MBP]), suppressed bone resorption. In this present study, we investigated whether MBP could prevent bone loss in aged ovariectomized rats. Twenty-one 51-week-old female Sprague-Dawley rats were ovariectomized (ovx), and another seven rats received a sham operation (sham). After a 4-week recovery period, the ovx rats were separated into three groups, and they were then fed a control diet, a 0.01% MBP diet (0. 01% casein of the control diet replaced with MBP), or a 0.1% MBP diet for 17 weeks. The sham rats were fed the control diet. Bone mineral density (BMD) of the femur was measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry in vivo. The BMD in the ovx-control group noticeably decreased during the experimental period in comparison with that in the sham group. However, the BMD in the OVX-0.1% MBP group was significantly higher than that in ovx-control group at weeks 12 and 16 (p < 0.05). After the 17-week feeding period, the breaking energy of the excised femur of all groups was determined by use of a three-point bending rheolometer. The breaking energy in the ovx-control group was significantly lower than that in the sham group (p < 0.05). However, the breaking energy in the ovx-0.1% MBP group was significantly higher than that of the ovx-control group (p < 0.05). Urinary deoxypyridinoline (D-Pyr) level of the ovx-control group was higher than that of the sham group, whereas the level of D-Pyr excretion in the ovx-0.01% MBP and ovx-0.1% MBP groups was significantly lower than that of the ovx-control group (p < 0.05). These results suggest that MBP suppresses the osteoclast-mediated bone resorption and prevents bone loss caused by ovariectomy. Moreover, we performed an in vitro study using isolated osteoclasts from rabbit bone to investigate the possible mechanism. MBP dose-dependently suppressed the number of pits formed by these osteoclasts. This result indicates that MBP suppresses bone resorption by its direct effects on osteoclasts. To our knowledge, this study provides the first evidence that MBP directly suppresses osteoclast-mediated bone resorption, resulting in the prevention of the bone loss that occurs in ovx rats.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / urine
  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Bone Density / drug effects
  • Bone Resorption / prevention & control
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Femur / drug effects
  • Femur / physiology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Milk Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Osteoclasts / drug effects
  • Osteoporosis / etiology
  • Osteoporosis / metabolism
  • Osteoporosis / prevention & control*
  • Ovariectomy
  • Rabbits
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Amino Acids
  • Milk Proteins
  • deoxypyridinoline