New research has found that Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), a hormone produced in the pituitary gland that regulates hormone production in the thyroid gland, can promote bone growth as well as its usual thyroid functions. TSH, as the name might suggest, is normally involved in stimulating the thyroid to produce thyroxine and other hormones. Thyroxine is a hormone that helps regulate your metabolism and control your physical development. This new study proves for the first time that TSH also activates osteoblasts, the cells responsible for bone formation. This research results suggests that TSH, or drugs that mimic its affect on bone, may form part of future treatments for osteoporosis and other conditions involving bone loss, such as cancer. The findings were published online this week in the National Academy of Sciences journal PNAS.
"Osteoporosis is really an imbalance in the functions that create and destroy bone in the body" said Mone Zaidi from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where the research took place. "Our findings indicate that there may be a novel new method for addressing the lack of bone production. Our discovery that TSH causes bone growth also represents a new way of thinking about the role of certain glands and how they operate."
Ireland has one of the highest incidence of osteoporosis in the world with nearly 300,000 Irish people suffering from the disease - with many unaware of their condition. One in 5 men and 1 in 2 women over 50 will develop a fracture due to Osteoporosis in their lifetime. The disease can also affect children. The risk factors associated with osteoporosis include aging, low body weight, low levels of the sex hormone oestrogen (principally caused by the menopause) smoking and some medications.