Your bones do not just support your muscles and tissues; they also produce hormones. This is the case of osteocalcin, a hormone that influences the metabolism of sugar and fats in our body. Researchers at the Montreal Clinical Research Institute (IRCM) have studied the role of this hormone and its trigger. Osteocalcin promotes the production of insulin, which lowers the level of glucose in our blood, and also plays a role in preventing obesity by increasing energy expenditure. However, osteocalcin does not work alone: to be active, it requires a trigger; this trigger is furin and ultimately it’s discovery could open the door to avenues of prevention for type 2 diabetes and obesity.
It has long been known that hormones can affect bone mass and strength. “You only have to think about women who are more affected by osteoporosis when they reach menopause. It is because of the lowering of their level of estrogen that they are more prone,” says Dr. Ferron, director of the IRCM’s integrative and molecular physiology research unit.
However, the idea that the bone itself can act on other tissues became properly understood a few years ago with the discovery of osteocalcin, a hormone produced by the cells of the bone. Thanks to this enzyme, our metabolism can assimilate sugar more easily.
“Osteocalcin helps, among other things, to produce insulin, which lowers the level of glucose in our blood. It could also protect us from obesity by increasing our energy expenditure, “, further explains Dr. Ferron. Studies even indicate that changes in blood levels of osteocalcin may influence the development of diabetes in some people. This is a truly fascinating study, and further indicates the fact that we have only just tapped into understanding the human body as a whole.
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