New Osteoporosis Research: Serotonin Could Control Bone Formation
Posted Dec 02 2008 2:01am
Most treatments for Osteoporosis only slow bone loss, but a new finding may provide new hope for the 10 million Americans who live with this disease. Turns out serotonin could play a very important role in bone formation.
The New York Times reports:
At its heart is serotonin made by the gut rather than the brain, whose role outside the brain had been a mystery. Ninety-five percent of the body’s serotonin is made by the gut, but gut serotonin cannot enter the brain because it is barred by a membrane, the so-called blood-brain barrier.
Dr. Karsenty reports, though, that gut serotonin can directly control bone formation. It is released into the blood, and the more serotonin that reaches bone, the more bone is lost. Conversely, the less serotonin, the denser and stronger bones become. Dr. Karsenty was even able to prevent menopause-induced osteoporosis in mice by slowing serotonin production.
Osteoporosis researchers were dumbfounded by the report.
Those same experts are quick to caution that while exciting, this research is "basic" — it was done in mice that were "engineered to have human genes." Researchers remain hopeful about the research that could follow that would drastically change the way Osteoporosis is treated.