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How Your Bones Affect Your Metabolism and Appetite


bone health New studies at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) have highlighted the fact that your skeleton does much more than provide a structural frame for your body: it produces hormones that boost your metabolism and suppress appetite. The findings could lead to new therapies for type 2 diabetes, obesity and other metabolic disorders.

Doctors have known for a long time that hormones can affect bones, as menopausal women are at risk of developing osteoporosis after their estrogen levels decline. However, the reverse of this concept, that bones can affect other parts of the body is a relatively new discovery.

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“In recent years, studies at CUMC and elsewhere have shown that bone is an endocrine organ and produces hormones that affect brain development, glucose balance, kidney function, and male fertility,” said study leader Stavroula Kousteni, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics at Columbia University Medical Center. “Our findings add a critical new function of bone hormones to this list — appetite suppression — which may open a wholly new approach to the treatment of metabolic disorders.”

Bones Produce Osteocalcin, Which Regulates Metabolism

In 2007, a research team at CUMC was the first to find that bone is an endocrine organ, which boosts energy metabolism through the production of a hormone called osteocalcin. “We hypothesized that there were additional bone hormones that regulate your metabolism, since other endocrine organs that affect metabolism usually do so through multiple hormones,” said Kousteni.

Bones Produce Lipocalin 2, Which Suppresses Appetite

The first indication of a second hormone produced by bones came in 2010. Kousteni’s study involving mice showed that disabling a gene referred to as FOXO1 in osteoblasts, which are bone-forming cells, led to less food consumption and enhanced glucose balance. These effects were due only partially to osteocalcin activation, so the researchers deduced another hormone was activated as well. “Since osteocalcin does not regulate appetite, we knew that a second bone hormone had to be involved in this process,” said Kousteni.

In a 2017 study published in Nature, Kousteni and her team noticed osteoblasts that lacked adequate FOXO1 had very high amounts of a hormone called lipocalin 2. This protein was previously thought to be secreted mainly by fat cells, but the study showed its levels were ten times higher in osteoblasts.

The hormone suppressed appetite and decreased weight in both normal and obese mice. After 16 weeks of lipocalin 2 injections, mice of normal weight had an 18-percent lower food intake and a 9-percent lower body weight than the control group. The injections in the obese mice produced 16-percent reduced food consumption and 26-percent reduced weight gain.

In the next step, eliminating the lipocalin 2 had the opposite effect. Mice engineered to lack lipocalin 2 in their osteoblasts or fat cells ate 16-percent more food and gained 5-percent more weight in a 12-week period. They also showed signs of impaired glucose metabolism. These results verified the effects of lipocalin 2 in osteoblasts on appetite and weight.

In addition, the team discovered an action of lipocalin that may account for these benefits. It crossed the blood brain barrier and turned on neurons in the hypothalamus that trigger appetite suppression.

“The hope is that lipocalin 2 might have the same effects in humans, and that our findings can be translated into the development of therapies for obesity and other metabolic disorders,” said Kousteni.

Kousterni’s early findings in humans are equally promising. In her study involving patients with type 2 diabetes, lipocalin 2 levels in the blood were inversely related to body weight and blood sugar regulation. These benefits were consistent with the results of the mice research.


Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.

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One response to “How Your Bones Affect Your Metabolism and Appetite”

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