Osteoporosis therapy has got a shot in the arm with the new study conducted by the researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine which reveals that thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) encourages bone growth. This could be a vital finding that could help osteoporosis treatments especially such of the cases that involve bone cancer-induced bone loss.
The thyroid stimulating hormone is actually produced by the anterior part of the pituitary gland, which is a pea-sized organ located in the hypothalamus at the base of the brain responsible for the growth of the thyroid gland in the neck, stimulating it to produce more thyroid hormones. (1)
However, the study, findings of which were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has now noted that the thyroid stimulating hormone can promote bone growth independent of it’s core thyroid functions. The research has gone on to conclude that TSH or drugs/chemicals that mimic the effect of TSH with respect to bone can be added to the stable of treatment options available for osteoporosis and bone cancer. (2)
Back in 2010, the researchers from Mount Sinai had also published a report based on the study that suggested that TSH inhibited the production of osteoclasts. Osteoclasts are bone cells that nibble at and remove bone tissue causing the removal of organic bone. This process is called bone resorption. The new study has taken last years research to another level with new evidence establishing for the first time that TSH also activates osteoblasts. Osteoblasts are cells responsible for bone formation through the creation of a matrix which later becomes mineralised to form bones.
As per Terry F. Davies, MD, FRCP, FACE, Florence and Theodore Baumritter Professor of Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, “There are relatively few treatments right now for osteoporosis, and virtually all of them focus on limiting osteoclasts, that is, fighting the loss of existing bone. However, our study shows that future progress in osteoporosis therapies may hinge on medications that can mimic the effects of TSH and promote the growth of new bone. The key will be to develop TSH analogs that would activate osteoblasts and yet not affect the thyroid gland the way TSH itself does.” (3)
Lead researcher Dr. Mone Zaidi* is of the opinion that osteoporosis is an imbalance in the functions of the body which are responsible for the creation and destruction of bones. Dr. Mone Zaidi, MD, PhD, FRCP, FACE, Hon MD is the Professor of Medicine, and Director of the Mount Sinai Bone Program, Mount Sinai School of Medicine. According to him, there is a new way of addressing this problem of lack of bone formation.
In America alone, approximately 55% of the total population over 50 years of age (both male and female) experiences symptoms of osteoporosis. (4) A majority of these cases only discover their bone health and shrinkage condition on seeing a doctor for a fracture. The disease affects women more often than men, and risk factors include aging; low body weight; low levels of the sex hormone estrogen; smoking; and some medications. From this light it is easy to see why the discovery made by the new study that TSH promotes bone growth is indicative of a new way of thinking of what roles glands play in bone health and how they work.
* Dr. Zaidi is a named inventor of a pending patent application related to the use of TSH in the inhibition of TNF activity.
- Definition of TSH; MedicineNet.com; April, 2011; http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=5858
- Pituitary Hormone TSH Found to Directly Influence Bone Growth; Mount Sinai School of Medicine, News and Events; September, 2011; http://www.mssm.edu/about-us/news-and-events/pituitary-hormone-tsh-found-to-directly-influence-bone-growth
- Pituitary Hormone TSH Found to Directly Influence Bone Growth; Science Daily; September, 2011; http://tinyurl.com/63pzq76
- Fast facts- Statistics; National Osteoporosis Foundation; http://www.nof.org/node/40