Researchers discover a hormone in mouse mothers that helps build bone

Scientists have discovered a hormone responsible for keeping bones sturdy in lactating people and mice, which could have broad applications for treating bone conditions like osteoporosis and gum disease or helping fractures heal.

When mice and humans are lactating, calcium is stripped from their bones to be used in milk. But a certain hormone from the brain boosts bone stem cell activity and the formation of new bone during lactation, according to the study published Wednesday in Nature. The research was led by Holly Ingraham at the University of California San Francisco and Thomas Ambrosi at the University of California Davis.

The researchers also showed the hormone could speed the repair of fractures and also build strong bones in both young and old mice. The hormone, known as CCN3, is found in specific neurons in the brain that the study authors describe as the “gatekeeper of female reproduction.”

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