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A Healthy Skeleton, A Healthy Body
Fractures due to skeletal fragility are major health concern, they can result in severe pain, immobility for extended periods and can cause major complications to overall health and wellbeing.
Recently healthcare researchers have become increasingly aware of the role the skeletal system plays in the overall functioning of our body. They have found a strong correlation to overall physical health and the health of the skeletal system. Factors such as weight loss, muscle gain, diabetes, hormone levels and immune function can all have drastic effects on bone density and skeletal health.
There are three main types of bone cells: osteoblasts, responsible for bone formation, the osteoclast, responsible for bone resorbing and finally the osteocyte, which is the most abundant bone cell and works to form networks between tissues. It is also responsible for turning mechanical strain, from things such as walking, jogging or jumping, into messages for other cells to up bone production.
The understanding, in the past few years, of how these skeletal cells interact with other systems in the body to regulate and maintain healthy bones has improved significantly.
There are cells for example, which regulate immune function such as Th1 and Th17 cells. Th1, which are a type of white blood cell, play a key role in immune function and have been found to stimulate the development of osteoclast cells, while Th17, which is an immune system regulating cell, has been found to ramp down production of osteoclast cells.
Insulin regulating Drugs which have long been used in the treatment of diabetes have been found to have an effect on bone density, the understanding of how these drugs affect the skeletal system however is fairly limited, and research is currently being conducted to develop drugs which may serve the dual purpose of regulating insulin and protecting skeletal health.
The link between muscle health and skeletal health has been around for a long time, however there has been new understanding recently as to how that link is formed. Generally speaking the healthier muscles are, the denser the bone becomes, and this is due in large part to mechanical loading of the bone, which stimulates bone growth. New evidence however suggests that healthy muscle may secrete a wide variety of cytokines, which basically act as intercellular messengers that communicate with bone cells and aid in the production of bone.
The more that is learned about the skeletal system and its role in the body system as a whole the more researchers are able to develop new drugs and treatment options to help those suffering from skeletal health issues.