Bone hormone boosts exercise performance | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 94 Issue 25 | p. 7 | Concentrates
Issue Date: June 20, 2016

Bone hormone boosts exercise performance

A protein released by bones activates muscle to metabolize glucose and fatty acids, delaying exhaustion and improving performance
Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: Biological SCENE
Keywords: biochemistry, bone, muscle, hormone, exercise
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This bone hormone, called osteocalcin, activates muscle to metabolize energy molecules and help improve performance.
Credit: Yikrazuul/Creative Commons
Ribbon structure of osteocalcin protein.
 
This bone hormone, called osteocalcin, activates muscle to metabolize energy molecules and help improve performance.
Credit: Yikrazuul/Creative Commons

If you’ve ever been frustrated by the refusal of your tired muscles to continue a particularly exertive activity, feel free to blame your old bones, in particular a bone hormone called osteocalcin. Researchers led by Columbia University’s Gerard Karsenty report that osteocalcin is necessary for muscle cells to adapt to increased energy requirements during exercise (Cell Metab. 2016, DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2016.05.004). The bone hormone—a small protein—activates muscle cells to increase uptake and catabolism of glucose and fatty acids so that exertive activity can be maintained. Working with mice, the team found that circulating levels of osteocalcin double during endurance exercise in young adults, decrease sharply before or around midlife, and do not increase during exercise in older animals to the same extent as in younger ones. When the team gave osteocalcin to 15-month-old mice, the animals’ exercise capacity returned to that of three-month-old mice. If the results hold true in humans, one wonders whether osteocalcin will become as common in gym bags as a towel and water bottle, or whether the hormone will end up banned and added to international doping lists.

 
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ISSN 0009-2347
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