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We have shown that silica (Si) deprivation decreases the collagen concentration in bone of 9-wk-old rats. Finding that Si deprivation also affects collagen at different stages in bone development, collagen-forming enzymes, or collagen deposition in other tissues would have implications that Si is important for both wound healing and bone formation. Therefore, 42 rats in experiment 1 and 24 rats in experiment 2 were fed a basal diet containing 2 or 2.6 µg Si/g, respectively, based on ground corn and casein, and supplemented with either 0 or 10 µg Si/g as sodium metasilicate.
At 3 wk, the femur was removed from 18 of the 42 rats in experiment 1 for hydroxyproline analysis. A polyvinyl sponge was implanted beneath the skin of the upper back of each of the 24 remaining rats. Sixteen hours before termination and 2 wk after the sponge had been implanted, each rat was given an oral dose of 14C-proline (1.8 µCi/100 g body wt). The total amount of hydroxyproline was significantly lower in the tibia and sponges taken from Si-deficient animals than Si-supplemented rats. The disintegrations per minute of 14C-proline were significantly higher in sponge extracts from Si-deficient rats than Si-supplemented rats. Additional evidence of aberrations in proline metabolism with Si deprivation was that liver ornithine aminotransferase was significantly decreased in Si-deprived animals in experiment 2.
Findings of an increased accumulation of 14C-proline and decreased total hydroxyproline in implanted sponges and decreased activity of a key enzyme in proline synthesis (liver ornithine aminotransferase) in Si-deprived animals indicates an aberration in the formation of collagen from proline in sites other than bone that is corrected by Si. This suggests that Si is a nutrient of concern in wound healing as well as bone formation.
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