Hormone’s role in bone growth discovered
15 Feb, 2008
Source: Otago University
The crucial role that a little understood heart hormone plays in bone development and growth after birth has been discovered by Otago University researchers.
Professor Eric Espiner and Dr Tim Prickett are leading world research attempts to find out more about the heart hormone C-type Natriueretic Peptide (CNP), which has puzzled scientists since its discovery in 1990.
For the first time, Professor Espiner and colleagues have shown that CNP acts as a vital signal for skeletal growth at crucial stages in foetal and childhood development.
“This is a major advance in our understanding of how the skeleton develops in humans and could greatly assist in the early diagnosis and treatment of growth disorders in thousands of children, and those with rare bone disorders,” Professor Espiner explains.
The scientists have demonstrated that CNP is produced at high levels in the foetus and during rapid bone development at birth, with levels slowly falling as growth rate slows.
“Then there’s another surge in CNP around puberty when there’s a new growth spurt and skeletal development,” Professor Espiner adds.
Key to their findings was the development of a test or assay to measure levels of CNP in the blood by Dr Prickett and Associate Professor Tim Yandle.
“This finding is likely to have other useful clinical applications such as monitoring the use of powerful steroid drugs (and other medications) which may have a negative effect on bone growth in children. Early detection of such adverse effects should allow other treatment options to be considered,” Professor Espiner says.
- 26 February 2008