A mineral-rich extract from the red marine algae Lithothamnion calcareum preserves bone structure and function in female mice on a Western-style diet

Calcif Tissue Int. 2010 Apr;86(4):313-24. doi: 10.1007/s00223-010-9340-9. Epub 2010 Feb 24.


The purpose of this study was to determine whether a mineral-rich extract derived from the red marine algae Lithothamnion calcareum could be used as a dietary supplement for prevention of bone mineral loss. Sixty C57BL/6 mice were divided into three groups based on diet: the first group received a high-fat Western-style diet (HFWD), the second group was fed the same HFWD along with the mineral-rich extract included as a dietary supplement, and the third group was used as a control and was fed a low-fat rodent chow diet (AIN76A). Mice were maintained on the respective diets for 15 months. Then, long bones (femora and tibiae) from both males and females were analyzed by three-dimensional micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) and (bones from female mice) concomitantly assessed in bone strength studies. Tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP), osteocalcin, and N-terminal peptide of type I procollagen (PINP) were assessed in plasma samples obtained from female mice at the time of sacrifice. To summarize, female mice on the HFWD had reduced bone mineralization and reduced bone strength relative to female mice on the low-fat chow diet. The bone defects in female mice on the HFWD were overcome in the presence of the mineral-rich supplement. In fact, female mice receiving the mineral-rich supplement in the HFWD had better bone structure/function than did female mice on the low-fat chow diet. Female mice on the mineral-supplemented HFWD had higher plasma levels of TRAP than mice of the other groups. There were no differences in the other two markers. Male mice showed little diet-specific differences by micro-CT.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed
  • Animals
  • Bone Density Conservation Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bone and Bones / chemistry
  • Bone and Bones / drug effects*
  • Bone and Bones / physiology
  • Bone and Bones / ultrastructure
  • Cell Extracts / chemistry
  • Cell Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Diet* / veterinary
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fats / pharmacology
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Minerals / analysis
  • Osmolar Concentration
  • Rhodophyta / chemistry*
  • Western World
  • X-Ray Microtomography


  • Bone Density Conservation Agents
  • Cell Extracts
  • Dietary Fats
  • Minerals