Friday, November 28, 2008

It takes guts to build bone

The latest issue of the journal Cell has a very interesting report about new findings for bone formation in the body. Researchers at Columbia University learned that bone formation is controlled through the gut chemical serotonin. Yes, this is the same serotonin in your brain which affects mood, appetite, and sleep. In the body, 95% of serotonin is produced by the gastrointestinal tract, while only 5% in the brain.

While studying two rare bone diseases (one which causes very fragile, weak bones, the other which causes very dense bones) affected by mutations of the gene called Lrp5, they found that the Lrp5 gene was responsible for the synthesis of serotonin in the gut. Therefore, by regulating the production of serotonin in the gut, bone formation was controlled. In this case, with mice, once the intestine production of serotonin was turned off , osteoporosis was prevented. There was an opposite effect in making the bone mass decrease when the production of serotonin was activated. (Lrp5 gene inactivated)

According to Dr. Karsenty, lead researcher, the bottom line is, "
The findings demonstrate without a doubt that serotonin from the gut is acting as a hormone to regulate bone mass."

This new finding has implications for osteoporosis treatment, because many of the medications only prevent the breakdown of old bone. When osteoporosis is diagnosed, the bone loss is already accelerated, therefore, the possibility to find a drug that depresses the gut's serotonin synthesis, could stimulate bone growth for these individuals.

I'm not sure how this or if it would implicate those with eating disorders who have been diagnosed with osteopenia/osteoporosis, but I think there might be some possibility for treatment. This is especially true since there is
no clear evidence for medicinal interventions. Although of course weight restoration and early intervention provide the best possible outcome.

Other source:
Bone finding may point to hope for osteoporosis

5 comments:

Charlynn said...

Wow, how interesting! I have never read anything about seratonin having anything to do with bone formation. I'm off to read more.

Ai Lu said...

How interesting that serontonin, which is implicated in eating disorders, should be formed in the gut! So maybe it really IS about hunger, after all...I wonder how disordered eating affects the digestive tract's ability to produce serotonin.

Ai Lu

TwistedBarbie said...

I wonder how this applies to those who have some form of binge eating disorder or overeating of sorts and have denser bones, but low levels of seratonin....*ponder*

Kyla said...

I've never heard of this! Thanks for sharing. I'll bring it up with my dietitian on Wednesday.

Tiptoe said...

Yes, I think this is such an interesting study. It's literally hot off the press so to speak, and I'm really excited about possible new avenues of research in this area.

Ai Lu and TwistedBarbie, I too wonder about all the spectrum of eating disorders and how this affects them. I hope research is looked into this.