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Effects of germanium and silicon on bone mineralization

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The chemical properties of Ge are similar to Si. This study investigated whether Ge can substitute for, or is antagonistic to, Si in bone formation. Sixty male weanling Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly assigned to treatment groups of 12 and 6 in a 2 x 4 factorially arranged experiment. The independent variables were, per gram fresh diet, Si (as sodium metasilicate) at 0 or 25 micrograms and Ge (as sodium germanate) at 0, 5, 30, or 60 micrograms. Results confirmed that Ge does not enhance Si deprivation and provided evidence that Ge apparently can replace Si in functions that influence bone composition. When Si was lacking in the diet, calcium and magnesium concentrations of the femur were decreased; this was reversed by feeding either Ge and/or Si. Similar effects were found for zinc, sodium, iron, manganese, and potassium of vertebra. There were some responses to Si deprivation that Ge could not reverse; Ge did not increase femur copper, sodium, or phosphorus or decrease molybdenum of vertebra, effects that were evoked by Si supplementation. Additionally, some findings suggested that 60 micrograms Ge/g diet could be a toxic intake for the rat. On the other hand, some responses induced by Ge indicate that this element may be acting physiologically other than as a substitute for Si. Germanium itself affected bone composition. Germanium supplementation decreased Si and molybdenum in the femur and increased DNA in tibia. Regardless of the amount of Si fed, animals fed 30 micrograms Ge/g diet had increased tibial DNA compared to animals fed 0 or 60 micrograms Ge; however, tibial DNA of animals fed 30 micrograms Ge was not statistically different from those animals fed 5 micrograms Ge. Thus, Ge may be of nutritional importance.
Seaborn, Carol D. , Nielsen, Forrest H.
Includes references
Biological trace element research Aug 1994. v. 42 (2)
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
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