Use it or lose it to age: A review of bone and muscle communication

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Until recently, it was assumed that the only interaction between muscle and bone is mechanical, that the muscle acts as a pulley and the bone as a lever to move the organism. A relatively new concept is that muscle, especially contracted muscle, acts as a secretory organ, regulating metabolism. An even newer concept is that bone, especially the osteocytes in bone, act as endocrine cells targeting other organs such as kidney and more recently, muscle. These two new concepts logically led to the third concept: that muscle and bone communicate via soluble factors. Crosstalk occurs through muscle factors such as myostatin, irisin, and a muscle metabolite, β-aminoisobutyric acid, BAIBA, and through bone factors such as osteocalcin, transforming growth factor beta, TGFβ, Prostaglandin E2, PGE2 and Wnts. Some of these factors have positive and some negative effects on the opposing tissue. One feature both bone and muscle have in common is that their tissues are mechanically loaded and many of their secreted factors are regulated by load. This mechanical loading, also known as exercise, has beneficial effects on many systems leading to the hypothesis that muscle and bone factors can be responsible for the beneficial effects of exercise. Many of the characteristics of aging and diseases associated with aging such as sarcopenia and osteoporosis and neurological conditions such as Alzheimer's disease and dementia, are delayed by exercise. This beneficial effect has been ascribed to increased blood flow increasing oxygen and nutrients, but could also be due to the secretome of the musculoskeletal system as outlined in this review.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)212-218
Number of pages7
StatePublished - Mar 2019


  • Aging
  • Bone
  • Muscle
  • Osteocyte

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Histology

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