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When you’re insulin resistant, that is, you’ve got metabolic syndrome, pretty much every chemical in the body is NOT QUITE RIGHT. Some are up. Some are down. Few are actually at physiologically NORMAL levels.
Traditionally the focus is on the big guns.
- And cholesterol
In this series, we take a look at some of the other players.
Who they are, what they’re up to and how they’re part of the state of insulin resistance.
Osteocalcin when you’re insulin resistant
Osteocalcin is typically lower in someone with metabolic problems.
So who is osteocalcin ?
The osteo prefix, tells you, it has something to do with bone, but this is bone chemical, with A BIG reach – it impacts your bones, pancreas and testes.
It is produced by osteoblasts, these are the bone cells, that are tasked with making bone.
Now, osteocalcin, actually doesn’t help these guys MAKE BONE. In fact, it does, just the opposite. It actually interferes with the process, which doesn’t sound like a good thing…………
The yin and yang of bone building
But it is. You see, osteocalcin comes into two flavours : a carboxylated and an uncarboxylated version.
The carboxylated version, stops bone formation and this is what the osteoblasts produce.
Let me explain what happens…….
The carboxylated version, hangs around in the bone matrix, until another clan of bone cells, the osteoclasts, pull off the carboxyl groups, making the uncarboxylated version.
NOTE : They use a vitamin K dependent enzyme, to do this !
Bone breaking is needed
Calcium sticks to this uncarboxylated version, like superglue…..
So only when osteoclasts, are busy, is new bone formed.
This system ensure, the new bone, is always laid down, on a nice clean surface and thus, sticks WELL. If this doesn’t happen i.e. the bone is laid down on a “dirty” surface, it could peel and crack, with potentially disastrous consequences.
NOTE : Bisphosphonates, these are drugs, used to treat osteoporosis, can upset the balance. Click here to learn more.
This process, of cleaning off the grit and grime and then popping on a fresh coat of calcium paint, happens day in and day out.
It’s called bone remodeling.
And it’s very much, a team effort, so osteoblast and osteoclast activity SHOULD be perfectly in synch. Which is where osteocalcin comes in…………… it helps to synch, osteoclast activity, to osteoblast activity.
But, osteocalcin, is a wanderer…………
Beyond the bone
It leaves the bone and enters the circulation.
It’s chief job here, is to mobilize resources, to build NEW BONE.
Bone building requires lots of energy. In fact, bone is classified, as the fourth biggest sugar user in the body.
Bone sugar supplies
Now, interestingly, bone does not need insulin, to take up the sugar, but bone still responds to insulin. Insulin is a hormonal signal, that triggers bone building. One of the reasons for this, is insulin’s job, is to put away the groceries and bone is very useful cupboard – it stores calcium and phosphorus, among other things.
So, when you are insulin resistant…………. cells aren’t “listening” to insulin, the way that they should.
So bone remodelling is not optimal, because the bone is NOT getting the BUILD more, cue.
In the long term, this puts you at risk of bone breaks. And in the short term, leaves you with less osteocalcin, in your circulation, which impacts your energy metabolism.
You see, uncarboxylated osteocalcin’s dispatch, co-incides with bone remodelling, it does, double duty. It let’s the rest of the body know……….
The BONES ARE A BUILDING.
So resources need to be allocated, appropriately.
Appropriate allocation, includes sending sugar to the muscles – so they are strong enough, to pull the newly minted bones around.
Encouraging sugar to enter muscles is ALWAYS A GOOD THING ! There lots of them and they are the body’s biggest sugar user. The more sugar they take up, the less sugar ends up circulating, so sugar spikes are AVOIDED.
Now the sugar gate operated by osteocalcin, is NOT the same sugar gate, as used by insulin.
Insulin uses GLUT4, osteocalcin uses GRPC6A.
Improved insulin sensitivity
But, when all is said and done……
Increased osteocalcin is associated with increased insulin sensitivity.
So more osteocalcin, should be on your list of things to get, if you want to enjoy better body chemistry.
More osteocalcin, please
So what is the secret to more osteocalcin ?
In a word, more bone remodelling.
The trigger for bone remodelling is partly biochemical (insulin) and partly mechanical. Load bearing activity, sparks a flurry of bone remodelling, to ensure, the bones are able to accommodate, the load. So load yourself up !
Get off that chair, pound the pavement, lift something heavy or just lift yourself up.
NOTE : Most activities are load bearing, the exceptions are swimming and cycling.
Here are some of the references, I’ve used, to tell the osteocalcin story. Osteocalcin is just one of hundreds of chemicals in the body that are amiss when you’re suffering from metabolic syndrome. To learn more about some of the other players, go to our “Ups and Downs” of Insulin Resistance series.
Role of reduced insulin-stimulated bone blood flow in the pathogenesis of metabolic insulin resistance and diabetic bone fragility. Med Hypotheses. (2016) 93:81-6. Pamela S. Hinton.
Osteocalcin—A Versatile Bone-Derived Hormone. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). (2019) 9:794. Sarah C. Moser and Bram C. J. van der Eerden
New Insights into the Biology of Osteocalcin. Bone (2016) 82:42-9. Meredith L. Zoch, Thomas L. Clemens, and Ryan C. Riddle
Multifaceted interaction of bone, muscle, lifestyle interventions and metabolic and cardiovascular disease: role of osteocalcin. Osteoporos Int. (2017) 28(8):2265-2273. Levinger, T. C. Brennan-Speranza, A. Zulli, L. Parker, X. Lin, J.R. Lewis, B. B. Yeap
Insulin resistance IS a system – lots of tweaks have happened, over time to get you to this state. To get out of it, you need more than good sugar levels
Have you ever seen a FAT giraffe or zebra ? You haven’t. Your body should be keeping your weight in check, find out why yours isn’t
You can help your osteoclasts clean off the grime on your bones, without actually getting your hands dirty. All it takes is a little bone jiggling.