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J Clin Invest. 2010 Oct;120(10):3440-2. doi: 10.1172/JCI44786. Epub 2010 Sep 27.

c-Maf and you won't see fat.

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Department of Periodontics and Oral Medicine, School of Dentistry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA.


Osteoporosis is a common, age-related bone disease that results from an imbalance between the processes of bone formation and bone resorption, resulting in reduced bone mass and increased risk of fracture. Mesenchymal stem cells have the capacity to differentiate into osteoblastic and adipogenic lineages; recent research suggests that the switch between these two fates may be key to the decreased bone density that occurs with aging. In this issue, Nishikawa et al. demonstrate that the basic leucine-zipper transcription factor Maf (also known as c-Maf) is central to osteoblast lineage commitment. In addition, they find that increased oxidative stress - as occurs with aging - decreases Maf expression. This work advances understanding of the transcriptional regulation of cell fate decisions and may help direct the development of new therapies to fight age-related bone loss.

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