According to new research, premenopausal women who engage in physical activity can significantly reduce a known inhibitor of bone formation called sclerostin.

The study, which will be published in the October issue of Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (JCEM), also found that physical activity improved IGF-1 levels, which have a positive impact on bone formation.

Sclerostin is a glycoprotein produced primarily by osteocytes, the most abundant cells found in the human bone. Once released, sclerostin migrates to the bone surface where it triggers the production of cells that help bones develop.

Mohammed-Salleh M. Ardawi, Ph.D., FRCPath, professor at the Center of Excellence for Osteoporosis Research and Faculty of Medicine at King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia, explained:

"Physical activity is good for bone health and results in lowering sclerostin, a known inhibitor of bone formation and enhancing IGF-1 levels, a positive effector on bone health.

We also found physical activity training that enhances mechanical loading in combination with anabolic therapeutic agents will had added positive effect on bone health, particularly bone formation."

The team examined 1,235 premenopausal women for the study. They followed 58 women during an 8-week course of physical activity training and compared them with 62 women who acted as controls.

All study participants underwent a medical examination and had their measurements taken for bone mineral density, bone turnover markers, serum sclerostin and IGF-1.

The team found that women who engaged in 2+ hours of physical activity per week had considerably lower levels of serum sclerostin than those who had less than 2 hours of physical activity per week. However, those who regularly exercised had higher IGF-1 levels.

Ardawi said:

"Physical activity training is conceptually simple, inexpensive, and can serve practical purposes including reducing the risk of low bone mass, osteoporosis, and consequently fractures. Our study found that even minor changes in physical activity were associated with clear effects on serum levels of sclerostin, IGF-1 and bone turnover markers."

Written by Grace Rattue