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Heart Health Is Bone Health: Study Shows How Atherosclerosis and Osteoporosis Are Linked

Bethesda, Md. (May 5, 2016)—Patients with atherosclerosis—the buildup of cholesterol and fat in arteries—are at a higher risk of osteoporosis. A new study published in the American Journal of Physiology—Endocrinology and Metabolism shows how the development of atherosclerosis encourages the loss of bone density.

Cells called osteoclasts remove old bone while cells called osteoblasts form new bone. Bone mass is maintained by balancing the number and activity of these cells. The study found that atherosclerotic mice had fewer osteoblasts. While osteoclasts numbers decreased modestly in some bones, there were significantly more osteoclasts than osteoblasts overall, favoring bone loss. The researchers also observed that atherosclerosis-induced inflammation in the bone interfered with the maturation of new osteoblast cells, accounting for the reduction in number of osteoblasts.

The article “Skeletal inflammation and attenuation of Wnt signaling, Wnt ligand expression and bone formation in atherosclerotic ApoE-null mice” is published in the American Journal of Physiology—Endocrinology and Metabolism. It is highlighted as one of this month’s “best of the best” as part of the American Physiological Society’s APSselect program. Read all of this month’s selected research articles on the APSselect website.

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: To schedule an interview with a member of the research team, please contact the APS Communications Office or 301-634-7209. Find more research highlights in the APS Press Room.

Physiology is the study of how molecules, cells, tissues and organs function in health and disease. Established in 1887, the American Physiological Society (APS) was the first U.S. society in the biomedical sciences field. The Society represents more than 10,500 members and publishes 15 peer-reviewed journals with a worldwide readership.

 


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