Science 2 min read

Bones Release a Special Hormone To Help Handle Stress

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kentoh /

Bones are rigid organs that constitute part of the vertebrate skeleton.

Along with protecting our internal organs, researchers discovered that bones also secrete several hormones. An example of such is osteocalcin, a hormone that’s linked with our ability to handle stress.

Past studies have already tied osteocalcin with vital human physiological processes such as brain development and the ability to exercise. Now, scientists have taken our understanding of the hormone a step further.

In a study published in Cell Metabolism, the researchers described how our bones release osteocalcin in response to acute stress. It begins with an understanding of our bodies respond to stress.

How Your Body Responds to Stress

The body’s traditional reaction to stress is known as the “fight-or-flight” response.

When an individual senses danger, the brain’s amygdala sends a distress signal to the hypothalamus. Upon receiving this signal, the hypothalamus activates the sympathetic nervous system.

And this results in the adrenal glands pumping adrenaline into the bloodstream. The hormone triggers several physiological changes in the body to help the individual deal with the scary situation.

Now, here’s the exciting part.

Previous studies noted that some people and animals lack cortisol and other additional molecules which the adrenal gland produces. Still, these individuals display the same physiological response to acute stress.

How is this possible, you wonder?

A researcher at the Columbia University Department of Genetics and Development, Gerard Karsenty, MD, Ph.D., had a hypothesis. “Bone was invented in part to escape danger,” he told Inverse.

How Our Bones Help Us Deal With Stress

To confirm this hypothesis, Karsenty and his team took blood samples from restrained mice and nervous public speakers.

The researchers discovered that restraining the mice for 45 minutes raised the osteocalcin levels in their blood by 50 percent. Likewise, exposing the rodents to 15 minutes of scarier stimuli like fox urine increased the hormone levels even further – by 150 percent.

Karsenty and his team noted a similar result in human participants too. While osteocalcin levels rose in humans, other bone hormones remained the same.

Further analysis revealed that osteocalcin subdues the activity in the brain’s parasympathetic nervous system. This, in turn, triggers the release of adrenaline.

Karsenty was right. Our bones play a vital role in helping us escape dangers. However, what your body considers dangerous depends on what stresses you out.

Read More: Don’t Panic, but Researchers Have Discovered That Stress is Contagious

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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