Johns Hopkins logoAssociation between metabolic diseases like diabetes and the hormone insulin is known worldwide. The presence of this sugar-regulating hormone may be more beneficial than previously thought. A latest research undertaken by the Johns Hopkins scientists reveals the necessity of insulin for normal bone development and highlights the hormone to present a correlation between bone health and metabolic disease.

In the course of the research, investigators laid hands on a novel communication carried out between bone and pancreatics cells. The communication possibly enables insulin signaling in osteoblasts to boost agglomeration of postnatal bone and stimulate cells to create osteocalcin which is a bone protein. Apparently osteoblasts are cells responsible for bone development. It is believed that osteocalcin controls insulin secretion for regulating blood glucose levels.

“These findings will have an immediate impact on our understanding of insulin’s involvement in normal bone development and provide a theoretical guide to new approaches for the treatment of bone disease and diabetes. This research may also be a first step in explaining a possible correlation between bone health and other metabolic diseases such as osteoporosis,” remarked Thomas Clemens, Ph.D., Lewis Cass Spencer Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, and director of Johns Hopkins’ Center for Musculoskeletal Research.

An experiment was initiated on mutant mice without insulin receptors in their osteoblasts. Having investigated the mice, the researchers claim to have identified low circulating osteocalcin, decreased bone formation and lesser osteoblasts as compared to normal mice. However, after some years the mutant mice had apparently gained excess weight and acquired high blood sugar. Along with it, the mice also revealed significant glucose intolerance and insulin resistance which are the known key markers of diabetes.

With the inclusion of osteocalcin, the mutant mice supposedly displayed improved results from the symptoms of metabolic disease. The experts surmise that insulin action in bone puts forth an important signal associating metabolism and metabolic disease with bone heath. Similar investigations will be conducted on humans. Also, the investigators suggest inspections to be carried out to analyze the impact of osteoporosis drugs on osteocalcin and insulin production or alteration in blood sugar. Benefits of osteoporosis medications to diabetics can also be ascertained.

The research is published online in the journal Cell.