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Skeletal Discovery: Bone cells affect metabolism

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2:04pm, August 8, 2007

If your blood glucose is out of whack, the problem may be in your bones. New research in mice shows that bone cells exert a surprising influence on how the body regulates sugar, energy, and fat.

The discovery could lead to new ways to treat type 2 diabetes, a disease involving poor regulation of blood glucose. It also means that skeletons act as endocrine organs, which affect other body tissues by releasing hormones into the bloodstream.

"I'm already changing my teaching slides" about the functions of bones, comments Jennifer Westendorf, an associate professor of orthopedic surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. "Now we can add that [the skeleton] affects energy metabolism as well,"

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