Red yeast rice stimulates bone formation in rats

Gloria E. Gutierrez, Benjamin Mundy, Gianni Rossini, I. Ross Garrett, Stephen T. Chen, Gregory R. Mundy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Statins are a class of drugs commonly prescribed to decrease cholesterol levels that have recently been shown to also stimulate bone formation. Clinical data have emerged in the last few years that suggest statins may reduce the risk of fracture in patients taking these drugs for cholesterol lowering. Red yeast rice (RYR), rice that has been fermented by the red yeast Monascus purpureus, is frequently used in Chinese cuisine to flavor Peking duck and has also been used in traditional medicinal therapy in Asia for centuries. It has been reported that certain strains of RYR produce sufficient levels of lovastatin and other related statins to lower cholesterol levels when ingested by patients with hyperlipidemia. These findings may explain, in part, the suggested benefits of treating heart disease with RYR in conventional Chinese medicine. Because of the bone anabolic effect of statins, we hypothesized that RYR may also be capable of stimulating bone formation. We evaluated several different strains of RYR and identified strains that contained a natural form of lovastatin. These lovastatin-containing strains were shown to produce strong bone anabolic effects both in vitro and in vivo, indicating a potential application of RYR as a therapy for bone loss in conditions such as osteoporosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)124-129
Number of pages6
JournalNutrition Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Bone anabolic activity
  • HMG-CoA inhibitors
  • Osteoporosis
  • Rats
  • Red yeast rice
  • Statins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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