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Diabetes Dateline
Winter 2011

Critical Link Found between Insulin and Bone

Recent research findings published in the July 23, 2010, issue of Cell shed new light on the interactions between insulin, bone, and blood glucose, also called blood sugar. The findings could lead to a new approach to treating type 2 diabetes.

People with type 2 diabetes do not secrete enough insulin to control blood glucose, and their cells and tissues have a decreased capacity to respond to the hormone. A protein called osteocalcin, which stimulates bone-forming cells called osteoblasts and is secreted by them, has the important properties of stimulating insulin production and making the body’s cells more sensitive to insulin. Osteocalcin is inactive when released by the osteoblasts but is activated by osteoclasts, a different cell type that breaks down old bone.

Research conducted in mice from two laboratories supported by the National Institutes of Health has shown that insulin also stimulates production of the active form of osteocalcin, which in turn has a beneficial impact on energy balance within the body. Thus, the research shows another important way that insulin regulates metabolism—through its effects on bone—and suggests that bone cells may be a useful therapeutic target for type 2 diabetes.

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NIH Publication No. 11–4562
January 2011

Page last updated: December 5, 2011

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