Psychology Magazine

How Our Bones Regulate Our Weight.

By Deric Bownds @DericBownds
Jansson et al. report that bones have a gravity sensor that initiates metabolic changes that compensate for a sudden change in body weight to return the body to its desired homeostatic weight set point:
Significance
The only known homeostatic regulator of fat mass is the leptin system. We hypothesized that there is a second homeostat regulating body weight with an impact on fat mass. In this study we have added and removed weight loads from experimental animals and measured the effects on the biological body weight. The results demonstrate that there is a body weight homeostat that regulates fat mass independently of leptin. As the body weight-reducing effect of increased loading was dependent on osteocytes, we propose that there is a sensor for body weight in the long bones of the lower extremities acting as “body scales.” This is part of a body weight homeostat, “gravitostat,” that keeps body weight and body fat mass constant.
Abstract
Subjects spending much time sitting have increased risk of obesity but the mechanism for the antiobesity effect of standing is unknown. We hypothesized that there is a homeostatic regulation of body weight. We demonstrate that increased loading of rodents, achieved using capsules with different weights implanted in the abdomen or s.c. on the back, reversibly decreases the biological body weight via reduced food intake. Importantly, loading relieves diet-induced obesity and improves glucose tolerance. The identified homeostat for body weight regulates body fat mass independently of fat-derived leptin, revealing two independent negative feedback systems for fat mass regulation. It is known that osteocytes can sense changes in bone strain. In this study, the body weight-reducing effect of increased loading was lost in mice depleted of osteocytes. We propose that increased body weight activates a sensor dependent on osteocytes of the weight-bearing bones. This induces an afferent signal, which reduces body weight. These findings demonstrate a leptin-independent body weight homeostat (“gravitostat”) that regulates fat mass.

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