Background: Our previous studies have shown that dietary xylitol supplementation protects against the loss of bone mineral after ovariectomy. The ovariectomy-induced decrease in trabecular bone volume is significantly retarded by dietary xylitol. Objective: To study whether dietary xylitol can protect against bone loss also during aging, a long-term experimental study was performed with rats. Methods: Twenty-four male Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into two groups. The rats in the control group were fed a basal RM1 diet, while the rats in the experimental group were continuously fed the same diet supplemented with 10% (w/w) xylitol. The rats were killed after 20 months. Their tibiae were used for the analyses of bone density and trabecular bone volume, and their femurs were used for the scanning analyses with peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT). Results: The tibial density of the xylitol-fed aged group (1.73 ± 0.14 g/mm3) was significantly greater than that of the aged group without xylitol (1.56 ± 0.14 g/ mm3). The trabecular bone volume of the xylitol-fed rats was 21.2 ± 4.0%. It was significantly greater than that of the rats not receiving xylitol (9.3 ± 4.3%). The pQCT-measured cortical bone mineral density and the pQTC-measured cortical bone mineral content of the femoral diaphysis were significantly greater in the xylitol-fed group than in the control group. The trabecular bone mineral density and the trabecular bone mineral content of the femoral distal metaphysis were also significantly greater in the xylitol-fed group than in the non-xylitol group. The total bone mineral density and the total bone mineral content of the femoral neck in the xylitol-fed aged group significantly exceeded those in the aged group without xylitol supplementation. Conclusions: A continuous moderate dietary xylitol supplementation leads to increased bone volume and increased bone mineral content in the long bones of aged rats. This indicates a xylitol-induced protection against aging-related osteoporotic changes.

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