A four-season molecule: osteocalcin. Updates in its physiological roles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Osteocalcin (OC) is the main non-collagenous hydroxyapatite-binding protein synthesized by osteoblasts, odontoblasts, and hypertrophic chondrocytes. It has a regulatory role in mineralization and it is considered a marker of bone cell metabolism. Recent findings evidenced new extra-skeletal roles for OC, depicting it as a real hormone. OC shares many functional features with the common hormones, such as tissue-specific expression, circadian rhythm, and synthesis as a pre-pro-molecule. However, it has some peculiar features making it a unique molecule: OC exists in different forms based on the degree of carboxylation. Indeed, OC has three glutamic acid residues, in position 17, 21, and 24, which are subject to γ-carboxylation, through the action of a vitamin K-dependent γ-glutamyl carboxytransferase. The degree of carboxylation, and thus the negative charge density, determines the affinity for the calcium ions deposited in the extracellular matrix of the bone. The modulation of the carboxylation could, thus, represent the mechanism by which the body controls the circulating levels, and hence the hormonal function, of OC. There are evidences linking OC, and the bone metabolism, with a series of endocrine (glucose metabolism, energy metabolism, fertility) physiological (muscle activity) and pathological functions (ectopic calcification). Aim of this review is to give a full overview of the physiological roles of OC by collecting the newest experimental findings on this intriguing molecule.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)394-404
Number of pages11
JournalEndocrine
Volume48
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords

  • Bone turnover
  • Ectopic calcification
  • Energy metabolism
  • Fertility
  • Muscle strength
  • γ-Glutamyl transferases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Medicine(all)

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