In addition to providing structural support, the skeleton is a versatile conversationalist. Bones make hormones that chat with other organs and tissues, including the brain, kidneys and pancreas, experiments in mice have shown.
“The bone, which was considered a dead organ, has really become a gland almost,” says Beate Lanske, a bone and mineral researcher at Harvard School of Dental Medicine.
At least four bone hormones moonlight as couriers, recent studies show, and there could be more…Of the hormones on the list of bones’ messengers — osteocalcin, sclerostin, fibroblast growth factor 23 and lipocalin 2 — the last is the latest to attract attention. Lipocalin 2, which bones unleash to stem bacterial infections, also works in the brain to control appetite…Researchers previously thought that fat cells were mostly responsible for making lipocalin 2, or LCN2. But in mice, bones produce up to 10 times as much of the hormone as fat cells do….
Osteocalcin, sclerostin and LCN2 might also be involved in treating diseases someday, if results in animals apply to people.
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