Is it the food intake, exercise or is it something else?
Menopause is a complex stage in a woman’s life. It brings along an array of symptoms not restricted to the well-known hot flashes, night sweats, depression, mood swings, incontinence (inability to control bladder movements) and insomnia (inability to sleep).
It also introduces major changes such as loss of bone mass leading to osteoporosis, increase in visceral mass (abdominal fat) and decrease in overall body metabolism. There is a huge percentage of women who undergo on an average 4-5 kg of weight gain from 2-4 years before and well into menopause. The statistics among menopausal women suggest nearly 47% are overweight of which 25% are obese. Obesity leads to further complications and increases the risk for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disorders and breast cancer.
Image: Percentage of women suffering from weight gain during menopause
The levels of two key hormones, Oestrogen and Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) fluctuate during the peri-menopause and menopause. Oestrogen levels stay stable during peri-menopause but its decrease during menopause leading to loss of bone mass and eventually osteoporosis.
The changes in visceral fat and body metabolism are still not clear. A recent report in Nature by Zaidi and colleagues investigated the importance of FSH in the changes observed in visceral fat and body metabolism. They observed that blocking FSH by introducing an antibody against the beta-subunit of FSH was able to reduce adipose tissue and increase the bone mass in mice. This polyclonal antibody potently activates brown/beige fat thermogenesis and reduces body fat mass in mice. This study is a crucial validation in a series of investigations where they have sequentially identified FSH and FSH-receptor (FSH-R) signalling to be
This study is a crucial validation in a series of investigations where they have sequentially identified FSH and FSH-receptor (FSH-R) signalling to be important in osteoclasts leading to bone loss and stimulation of lipid biosynthesis leading to increased fat storage. In the current study, they have shown the effect of blocking FSH in
In the current study, they have shown the effect of blocking FSH in ovarectomized (ovaries were surgically removed) mice which show similar metabolic phenotype with the haploin-sufficient Fsh+/- mice. This blockade is effective as it targets the inhibitory G –protein, the cyclic AMP pathway leading to an increase in the adipose thermogenesis and loss in body fat.
Image: Illustration of FSH blockade therapy
They have further developed a monoclonal antibody that targets the human FSH beta-subunit. This discovery has opened up a lot of avenues in symptom management and provides hope towards retarding bone loss, weight gain and metabolic disorders during menopause.
Such pharmacological inhibition of FSH could be a worthy answer to reducing the burden of symptoms and diseases that occur in parallel with menopause and make the whole experience healthier and more tolerable for women.