Bone Mass Loss and Lactation

Understanding the link between mammary tissue, and its bone mass density loss that can lead to osteoporosis

Fluoxetine HCl 20mg Capsules (Prozac)

Fluoxetine HCl 20mg Capsules (Prozac) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Researchers at the University of Cincinnati recently have published research identifying the neurotransmitter, serotonin as a factor in bone mass density loss/retention. The receptor that can affect bone mass density loss with this neurotransmitter is within the mammary tissue, and activated during periods of lactation. The specific function of this process is to prevent overproduction of milk prior to nursing. After a nursing period ends, the serotonin production begins again to stop the lactation process.

Previously, this observation was important because serotonin levels are often inhibited with medications that treat depression. This can potentially have negative implications for breast milk production. Now however, the changes in this neurotransmitter within the body approaching during, and after lactation are seen to negatively impact bone mass density. The discovery of this process could lead to newer, more effective treatments to prevent osteopenia and osteoporosis.

These experiments, being run at the University of Cincinnati, have shown alterations in the effect of bone mass loss in mice and cow mammary tissue to a magnitude of 20 fold.

Antidepressant Drugs Can Make the Problem Worse


Zoloft (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Specific classifications of antidepressant drugs have been associated with lower bone mass density as well as osteoporotic fractures in frail in elderly patients. These are drugs that inhibit serotonin, and are referred to by the medical community as, SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors). Previously, depression itself was associated with osteopenia and osteoporosis, however, this recent discovery has highlighted the more specific effect of SSRI exposure. Additional research is required to understand the specific reactions and biochemical pathways in the body with SSRI medication use. Some examples of SSRI drugs are, Paroxetine (brand name Paxil), Sertraline (brand name Zoloft), and Fluoxetine (brand name Prozac).

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