Blocking the synthesis of serotonin could treat osteoporosis, according to a report published this week in Nature Medicine.
Osteoporosis is a disease of low bone mass often caused by excessive loss and poor formation of bones. Serotonin is best known for its role as a brain neurotransmitter, but this molecule is also produced by the gut and inhibits bone formation.
Gerard Karsenty and his colleagues tested whether blocking serotonin biosynthesis could treat osteoporosis by increasing bone formation. The researchers developed an inhibitor of tryptophan hydroxylase, a key enzyme in serotonin biosynthesis, and administered it once daily for up to six weeks to mice and rats with osteoporosis. They found that their compound both prevented and treated osteoporosis through an increase in bone formation.
The current treatment for osteoporosis, which acts by promoting bone formation, is the daily injection of parathyroid hormone. The results of this study highlight the potential of serotonin-synthesis blockers as a new generation of drugs to fight osteoporosis.