Muscle and bone, two interconnected tissues

Ageing Res Rev. 2015 May:21:55-70. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2015.03.002. Epub 2015 Mar 21.


As bones are levers for skeletal muscle to exert forces, both are complementary and essential for locomotion and individual autonomy. In the past decades, the idea of a bone-muscle unit has emerged. Numerous studies have confirmed this hypothesis from in utero to aging works. Space flight, bed rest as well as osteoporosis and sarcopenia experimentations have allowed to accumulate considerable evidence. Mechanical loading is a key mechanism linking both tissues with a central promoting role of physical activity. Moreover, the skeletal muscle secretome accounts various molecules that affect bone including insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), basic fibroblast growth factor (FGF-2), interleukin-6 (IL-6), IL-15, myostatin, osteoglycin (OGN), FAM5C, Tmem119 and osteoactivin. Even though studies on the potential effects of bone on muscle metabolism are sparse, few osteokines have been identified. Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) and Wnt3a, which are secreted by osteocytes, osteocalcin (OCN) and IGF-1, which are produced by osteoblasts and sclerostin which is secreted by both cell types, might impact skeletal muscle cells. Cartilage and adipose tissue are also likely to participate to this control loop and should not be set aside. Indeed, chondrocytes are known to secrete Dickkopf-1 (DKK-1) and Indian hedgehog (Ihh) and adipocytes produce leptin, adiponectin and IL-6, which potentially modulate bone and muscle metabolisms. The understanding of this system will enable to define new levers to prevent/treat sarcopenia and osteoporosis at the same time. These strategies might include nutritional interventions and physical exercise.

Keywords: Bone; Crosstalk; Locomotor system; Muscle.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology
  • Animals
  • Bone and Bones / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Muscles / physiology*
  • Receptor Cross-Talk
  • Weight-Bearing