Blueberry Polyphenols do not Improve Bone Mineral Density or Mechanical Properties in Ovariectomized Rats

Dennis P. Cladis, Elizabeth A. Swallow, Matthew R. Allen, Kathleen M. Hill Gallant, Connie M. Weaver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Osteoporosis-related bone fragility fractures are a major public health concern. Given the potential for adverse side effects of pharmacological treatment, many have sought alternative treatments, including dietary changes. Based on recent evidence that polyphenol-rich foods, like blueberries, increase calcium absorption and bone mineral density (BMD), we hypothesized that blueberry polyphenols would improve bone biomechanical properties. To test this, 5-month-old ovariectomized Sprague-Dawley rats (n = 10/gp) were orally gavaged for 90 days with either a purified extract of blueberry polyphenols (0–1000 mg total polyphenols/kg bw/day) or lyophilized blueberries (50 mg total polyphenols/kg bw/day). Upon completion of the dosing regimen, right femur, right tibia, and L1–L4 vertebrae were harvested and assessed for bone mineral density (BMD), with femurs being further analyzed for biomechanical properties via three-point bending. There were no differences in BMD at any of the sites analyzed. For bone mechanical properties, the only statistically significant difference was the high dose group having greater ultimate stress than the medium dose, although in the absence of differences in other measures of bone mechanical properties, we concluded that this result, while statistically significant, had little biological significance. Our results indicate that blueberry polyphenols had little impact on BMD or bone mechanical properties in an animal model of estrogen deficiency-induced bone loss.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCalcified Tissue International
Early online dateAug 24 2021
StatePublished - Aug 24 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was funded by the National Institutes of Health (R01AT008754). KMHG received partial salary support through NIH K01DK102864. The authors thank Pamela Lachcik, Dr. Maria Maiz, and Dr. Sisi Cao for their assistance with animal procedures and sample collection.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • BMD
  • Blueberries
  • Bone mechanical properties
  • Osteoporosis
  • Polyphenols

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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