Biology Without Walls: The Novel Endocrinology of Bone

Annu Rev Physiol. 2012;74:87-105. doi: 10.1146/annurev-physiol-020911-153233. Epub 2011 Nov 7.


Classical studies of vertebrate physiology have usually been confined to a given organ or cell type. The use of mouse genetics has changed this approach and has rejuvenated the concept of a whole-body study of physiology. One physiological system that has been profoundly influenced by mouse genetics is skeletal physiology. Indeed, genetic approaches have identified several unexpected organs that affect bone physiology. These new links have begun to provide a plausible explanation for the evolutionary involvement of hormones such as leptin with bone physiology. These genetic approaches have also revealed bone as a true endocrine organ capable of regulating energy metabolism and reproduction. Collectively, the body of work discussed below illustrates a new and unconventional role for bone in mammalian physiology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / physiology
  • Animals
  • Bone Remodeling / physiology
  • Bone and Bones / physiology*
  • Brain / physiology
  • Endocrine System / physiology*
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Female
  • Fertility / physiology
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / physiology
  • Hormones / physiology
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Osteoblasts / physiology
  • Osteocalcin / physiology
  • Pancreas / physiology
  • Pregnancy


  • Hormones
  • Osteocalcin