UCLA researchers discover gene that controls bone-to-fat ratio in bone marrow

Image

In an unexpected discovery, UCLA researchers have found that a gene previously known to control human metabolism also controls the equilibrium of bone and fat in bone marrow as well as how an adult stem cell expresses its final cell type. The findings could lead to a better understanding of the disruption of bone-to-fat ratio in bone marrow as well as its health consequences, and also point to the gene as a promising therapeutic target in the treatment of osteoporosis and skeletal aging.

Until now, the PGC-1α gene, a gene activator, was primarily known to regulate reactions that convert and sustain energy for human cells. The study — co-led by Dr. Cun-Yu Wang, chair and professor of oral biology and medicine and Dr. Bo Yu, assistant professor of restorative dentistry and KL2 scholar  — has shown that PGC-1α may actually impact whether stem cells turn into fat cells or bone marrow cells and in turn control the bone-to-fat balance in bone marrow.