Efficacy of calcium supplementation for human bone health by mass spectrometry profiling and cathepsin K measurement in plasma samples

Yingchun Zhao, Rui Cao, Danjun Ma, Hengwei Zhang, Joan Lappe, Robert R. Recker, Gary Guishan Xiao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Osteoporosis is a common disease among older people, especially postmenopausal women. Calcium supplementation is effective in decreasing the occurrence of osteoporosis. We tested the effect of different calcium sources (i.e., calcium carbonate chew, milk mineral chew, milk drink and placebo chew) by direct mass spectrometry (dMS) profiling and cathepsin K measurement in the serum of subjects. The dMS method is promising for plasma biomarker discovery, and cathepsin K level in the plasma is an indicator for osteoporosis. Our result shows that dMS detected characteristic ion peaks after different calcium supplement interventions; ion peak 4281.0 m/z was commonly inhibited by all three treatments. This ion peak was identified to be a fragment of follistatin-related protein 3 precursor by means of the "Lift" mode of MS/MS. The other differential ion peaks were also successfully identified: 1786.5 m/z (upregulated after calcium carbonate chew) was shown to be one fragment of transcription factor jun-B; the parent protein of 3504.7 m/z (upregulated after milk drink) was a collagen alpha-2 (type I) chain precursor; the ion peak of 3359.6 m/z (downregulated after milk mineral chew) was one fragment of family 31 glucosidase. Cathepsin K is significantly inhibited only by calcium carbonate chew treatment, indicating this form of calcium supplement has some advantage over other sources of supplementation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)552-560
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Bone and Mineral Metabolism
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by the Bone Biology Program of the Cancer and Smoking Related Disease Research Program and the Nebraska Tobacco Settlement Biomedical Research Program (LB592, LB595, and LB506 to GGX) Dairy Management Incorporated/the National Dairy Council. We want to acknowledge Mrs Julie Study for managing the clinical project and Mrs Karen Rafferty for serving as the research dietician on the project.


  • Calcium supplement
  • Cathepsin K
  • Direct mass spectrometry
  • Osteoporosis
  • Serum biomarker


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