Comprehensive metabolic characterization of serum osteocalcin action in a large non-diabetic sample

PLoS One. 2017 Sep 18;12(9):e0184721. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0184721. eCollection 2017.


Recent research suggested a metabolic implication of osteocalcin (OCN) in e.g. insulin sensitivity or steroid production. We used an untargeted metabolomics approach by analyzing plasma and urine samples of 931 participants using mass spectrometry to reveal further metabolic actions of OCN. Several detected relations between OCN and metabolites were strongly linked to renal function, however, a number of associations remained significant after adjustment for renal function. Intermediates of proline catabolism were associated with OCN reflecting the implication in bone metabolism. The association to kynurenine points towards a pro-inflammatory state with increasing OCN. Inverse relations with intermediates of branch-chained amino acid metabolism suggest a link to energy metabolism. Finally, urinary surrogate markers of smoking highlight its adverse effect on OCN metabolism. In conclusion, the present study provides a read-out of metabolic actions of OCN. However, most of the associations were weak arguing for a limited role of OCN in whole-body metabolism.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Biomarkers / urine
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Kidney Function Tests
  • Kynurenine / blood
  • Kynurenine / urine
  • Male
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteocalcin / blood*
  • Osteocalcin / urine
  • Smoking / blood
  • Smoking / urine


  • Biomarkers
  • Osteocalcin
  • Kynurenine

Grant support

This work was funded by grants from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF, grants 01ZZ0403, 01ZZ0103, 01GI0883, AtheroSysMed 03IS2061B), the Ministry for Education, Research and Cultural Affairs, as well as the Ministry of Social Affairs of the Federal State of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania. This work is also part of the research project Greifswald Approach to Individualized Medicine (GANI_MED). The GANI_MED consortium is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Ministry of Cultural Affairs of the Federal State of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania (03IS2061A).