Researchers have found how a hormone produced by our bones affects the way we metabolise sugar and fat, unveiling its potential in preventing diabetes and obesity.
In a paper published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, the team explained how this hormone, known as osteocalcin, works.
Thanks to this hormone, produced by bone cells, sugar is metabolised more easily, the researchers found.
"One of osteocalcin's functions is to increase insulin production, which in turn reduces blood glucose levels," said one of the researchers Mathieu Ferron from Montreal Clinical Research Institute (IRCM) in Canada.
"It can also protect us from obesity by increasing energy expenditure," Ferron said.
Studies have shown that, for some people, changes in blood concentrations of osteocalcin may even stave off the development of diabetes.
These protective properties sparked Ferron's interest in how this hormone actually works.
Conducting an experiment in mice, the team demonstrated that an enzyme called furin causes osteocalcin to become active and the hormone is then released into the blood.
"We demonstrated that when there was no furin in bone cells, inactive osteocalcin built up and was still released, but this led to an increase in blood glucose levels and a reduction in energy expenditure and insulin production," Ferron said.