Scientific American: Fight or flight may be in the bones

In the face of fear, whether it be caused by a grizzly bear or an audience waiting to hear you speak, your body initiates a reaction to stress. The breath quickens, the pupils dilate, the heart begins to pound. These automatic responses occur as a part of the so-called fight-or-flight response, the body’s evolved mechanism to threats around us.

Scientists have known for decades that this reaction is triggered by hormones released by the adrenal glands, two cone-shaped organs that sit atop the kidneys. Now a new hormone has entered the picture—osteocalcin, a protein produced and secreted by bone.

James Herman, PhD, Flor Van Maanen Professor of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics and chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Systems Physiology at UC, provides comment.

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