A newly discovered antibody, trialled in a mouse model of menopause, may help to boost bone mass and reduce body fat, a paper published online this week in Nature suggests. Further research is needed to determine whether these findings will translate to humans, but the study could aid the development of a single drug to help treat both post-menopausal osteoporosis and weight gain, and obesity in general.
Loss of bone mass and increased levels of visceral body fat are common features of menopause. Here, Mone Zaidi and colleagues show how treatment with an antibody against part of the pituitary hormone follicle-stimulating hormone increases bone mass and reduces adiposity in mice that have had their ovaries removed. The antibody treatment also reduced adiposity in regular mice fed a high-fat diet. Mice treated in this way showed increases in oxygen consumption, physical activity and thermogenesis (heat production) in brown and beige fat.
Current anti-obesity treatments, which tend to work by reducing appetite or blocking nutrient absorption, have limited efficacy and can cause side effects. The authors suggest that a humanized version of the newly reported antibody might also be of potential use in other conditions involving visceral adiposity, such as metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and polycystic ovary disease.