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Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2005 Oct 20;242(1-2):1-9.

Neural regulation of bone and the skeletal effects of serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine).

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  • 1Department of Physical Therapy, Indiana University, 1140 W. Michigan Street, CF-326, Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA.


There is increasing evidence for a contribution of the neural system to the regulation of bone metabolism. The skeleton is richly innervated by both sympathetic and sensory neurons. While these nerves serve sensory and vascular functions, they are also being found to influence bone cell activities. The most convincing evidence for this has been provided by studies into the skeletal effects of the hormone leptin, which has been shown to centrally regulate bone mass, and through studies into the skeletal effects of hypothalamic neuropeptide Y2 and Y4 receptors. This paper discusses recent evidence for the neural regulation of bone metabolism and, in particular, the potential role of the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT). Recent studies have demonstrated the presence of functional pathways in bone for both responding to and regulating the uptake of 5-HT. This is of high clinical relevance given the role of the serotonergic system in affective disorders, and the wide use of pharmacological agents that target the 5-HT system to manage these disorders. Initial data suggest that exposure to these agents at different stages during the lifespan may have significant effects on the skeleton.

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