Homeostasis of bone metabolism is regulated by the central nervous system, and mood disorders such as anxiety are associated with bone metabolism abnormalities, yet our understanding of the central neural circuits regulating bone metabolism is limited. Here, we demonstrate that chronic stress in crewmembers resulted in decreased bone density and elevated anxiety in an isolated habitat mimicking a space station. We then used a mouse model to demonstrate that GABAergic neural circuitry in the ventromedial hypothalamus (VMH) mediates chronic stress–induced bone loss. We show that GABAergic inputs in the dorsomedial VMH arise from a specific group of somatostatin neurons in the posterior region of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, which is indispensable for stress-induced bone loss and is able to trigger bone loss in the absence of stressors. In addition, the sympathetic system and glutamatergic neurons in the nucleus tractus solitarius were employed to regulate stress-induced bone loss. Our study has therefore identified the central neural mechanism by which chronic stress–induced mood disorders, such as anxiety, influence bone metabolism.


Fan Yang, Yunhui Liu, Shanping Chen, Zhongquan Dai, Dazhi Yang, Dashuang Gao, Jie Shao, Yuyao Wang, Ting Wang, Zhijian Zhang, Lu Zhang, William W. Lu, Yinghui Li, Liping Wang


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