"Sprouty" Protein Helps Bones Stay Strong And Muscles Lean

New research reveals the discovery of a protein that is responsible for regulating body fat and bone mass.

New research reveals the discovery of a protein that is responsible for regulating body fat and bone mass.

The protein, discovered by scientists from Maine, is called “Sprouty” and plays a specific role in creating leanness and strength, according to the results of a study published in THE FASEB Journal.

In the study, the research team was able to manipulate the amount of the protein expressed in different groups of mice specially bred to have some human genes.

The more the protein was expressed in the transgenic mice, the leaner and stronger they became. Also, when mice with low levels of the protein were made to express more of it, they lost weight and increased bone density.

“When the U.S. military has to turn to fitness gurus like Tony Horton to help its soldiers slim down, you know obesity is a serious problem,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal, in a press release "and all you have to do is visit to a nursing home to see the devastating effects of osteoporosis. ‘Sprouty’ - well named - gets to the roots of extra fat and shrinking bone.”

The team studied two groups of mice. One group had a genetic deletion of the Sprouty gene in cells that develop into fat and bone. The second group had high levels of expressed Sprouty proteins in the same cell types.

The mice with the deleted gene had increased body fat and loss of bone mass similar to osteoporosis as compared to normal mice. But bone loss was reversed by adding more Sprouty protein. The group with excess Sprouty expression produced lean mice with increased bone mass.

"Our study provides insight into the regulation of bone mass and body fat," said Lucy Liaw, PhD., co-author of the study from the Maine Medical Center Research Institute in Scarborough, ME, in a press release. "Therefore, future application of this knowledge may help treat common conditions such as bone loss and obesity."