Rhonda Prisby, an assistant
professor of kinesiology in the College of Education and Health Professions, is
the lead author on an article published in the November issue of the Journal of
Bone and Mineral Research, the official publication of the American Society for
Bone and Mineral Research. She collaborated with French and Canadian scientists
on a study of parathyroid hormone or PTH.
PTH is often used as a treatment
for osteoporosis. It binds to bone cells to stimulate an increase in bone mass.
Prisby’s team wanted to examine the interaction between PTH and vascular
endothelial growth factor or VEGF A, a protein released in the body to create
new blood vessels.
“When we administered PTH
intermittently for 15 and 30 days we saw increases in bone mass just as we
expected,” Prisby said. “But bone blood vessel numbers were decreased with PTH.
That was the opposite of what we expected.”
Instead, researchers noticed
that by working through a mechanism related to the VEGF A, PTH caused small
blood vessels in the bones to redistribute themselves closer to the surface of
the bone. Being closer to the surface of the bone allowed the small blood
vessels to more efficiently support growth through delivery of nutrients and
oxygen and elimination of waste. That redistribution of the small blood vessels
contributed to the increased bone mass, the team concluded.
“To our knowledge, this is the
first investigation to demonstrate that bone marrow blood vessels have the
capacity to alter their spatial location in response to stimuli and relocalize
to the vicinity of bone-forming sites,” the study, which is available online,
Having a researcher with
Prisby’s talent at UT Arlington benefits students in the classroom and in the
lab, said Jeanne Marcum Gerlach, dean of the College of Education and Health
“Her research is so valuable and
she’s one of the top in her field,” Gerlach said. “Her work shows students the
real-world applications that research can achieve.”
A commentary in the November
issue of the journal singled out both the methods used by Prisby and the
research team and their results for praise.
Dwight A. Towler, Ira M. Lang Professor of
Medicine, Barnes-Jewish Hospital at Washington University Medical Center, said:
“This unparalleled, quantitatively robust analysis of bone vascular anatomy and
its regulation by PTH has provided truly novel insights into how anabolic
signals control and coordinate bone mass accrual via VEGF signaling in the
Towler’s commentary said a
fundamental understanding of bone-vascular interactions could have a major
impact on strategies to build new bone in everything from cancer cases to old
Prisby’s work is an example of
the cutting-edge research going on at UT Arlington, a comprehensive research institution of 33,439 students in
the heart of North Texas. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more.