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Depression Linked to Bone Loss in Mice

Bone loss may be due to excessive sympathetic central nervous system activity

TUESDAY, Oct. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Depressed mice have bone loss due to reduced bone formation that may be mediated through an overactive sympathetic central nervous system, according to a study published Oct. 30 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition. What's more, antidepressants appear to reverse the loss of bone mass.

Raz Yirmiya, Ph.D., from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel, and colleagues subjected mice to chronic stress to simulate depression and examined the effect on bone mass.

The researchers found that depression triggered losses in bone mass and structure. There was reduced bone formation due to fewer osteoblasts, which could be reversed by antidepressants. Levels of bone norepinephrine were also elevated, which could be blocked by the beta-adrenergic antagonist propranolol, according to the study.

"Together with the common occurrence of depression and bone loss in the aging population, the present data implicate depression as a potential major risk factor for osteoporosis and the associated incidence in fracture incidence," Yirmiya and colleagues conclude.

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