New research into bone structure and function shows how the hormone leptin plays a vital role in these processes, and this new knowledge could help our understanding of osteoporosis, according to a paper published online by Nature this week.
Bone structure and function are maintained throughout life by bone remodelling, which involves an interplay of two functions: bone resorption by osteoclasts and bone formation by osteoblasts. Gerard Karsenty and his colleagues show that leptin, best known as a hormone regulating body weight and gonadal function, can regulate bone resorption by acting on osteoclasts - cells that resorb bone - via two distinct and antagonistic pathways. In one pathway, sympathetic signalling promotes differentiation of osteoclasts. In the other pathway, a neuropeptide called CART inhibits osteoclast differentiation.
Blocking the molecules involved in the first pathway, and hence inhibiting bone resorption, could help prevent or manage bone loss, the authors speculate.
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