'Exercise hormone' research could lead to new treatments for osteoporosis

Scientists say the latest research on a hormone that's released by muscles during exercise could lead someday to new treatments for osteoporosis.

A new study shows that the so-called "exercise hormone" irisin targets key regulatory cells that control the formation and breakdown of bone, according to the Harvard Gazette.

In the study, Spiegelman and his colleagues at Dana-Farber say they have — for the first time — identified a molecular receptor for irisin, according to the Gazette.

"These results are potential game changers in the fields of metabolism, muscle-bone biology, and exercise," Spiegelman said in a statement. "We show that irisin works directly on osteocytes, the most abundant cell type in bone."

The study said, “Identification of the irisin receptor should greatly facilitate our understanding of irisin’s function in exercise and human health.”

Spiegelman and other researchers have proposed that irisin, which Spiegelman discovered in 2012, is a link between exercise and its beneficial effects on health, including burning fat, strengthening bones, and protecting against neurodegenerative diseases.

Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.

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