The Knee Bone’s Connected to the Pancreas Bone?


There is something beautiful about formal math. Take, for example:

Suppose Ω = R and let
    C = {(a,b],-∞ ≤ a ≤ b < ∞ }
    B(R) := σ(C)
and call B(R) the Borel subsets of R. Thus the Borel subsets of R are elements of the σ-field generated by intervals that are open on the left and closed on the right. [1]

Such a self-contained universe of symbols, unassailed by time, by entropy, by uncertainty. If we suppose Ω = R, there is no chance we are wrong in our supposition; it is not so much an assumption based on observation or experimentation, but a definition of the very space we have chosen to work in.

Ah, yes. So pure, so innocent, so untouched and virginal.

The human body, unfortunately, is not like that. Yesterday, I read:

“The skeleton is a dynamic tissue that constantly remodels by balancing osteoclast-mediated bone resorption and osteoblast-mediated born formation.” [2]

That’s right. The skeleton is a tissue. Always changing, made up of cells that come and go and that we can only begin to define. And what’s more:

“[G]roundbreaking studies by the Karsenty and Ducy group reveal that skeletal remodeling is intimately connected to energy metabolism via crosstalk between bone and brain, fat, gut and pancreas….[I]nsulin signaling in osteoblasts not only regulates bone acquisition, but is also required for whole body glucose homeostasis.” [2]

There is no notion of self-containment here. Nothing is sterile or untouched. Your skeleton is not the steel rebar that supports your body; it is a lattice of cells, and it is part of a delicate balance of activity that involves fat tissue, the immune system, and the pancreas. Obesity, diabetes, glucose levels– it’s not just about blood and sugar, and there’s no disconnecting the system into disparate parts.

And I wonder why trying to sub for a broken pancreas is so complex. Goodness.

Overwhelmed now as I am by the miraculous complexity of human biology, I will return to a few math proofs, where I am safe, and the rules of the game are clear and well-defined.

Osteo-cells required for whole body glucose homeostasis! What a world.

1. Resnick, Sidney. A Probability Path. (Boston: Birkhauser, 2005), p. 16.
2. Wan, Yihong. (2010) PPARγ in bone homeostasis. Cell Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism. DOI: 10.1016/j.tem.2010.08.0006

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Emily Patton

Whenever I read your posts (or, actually, any of the other contributors’ posts on this site), I feel like I have so much left to learn.  How do you know all this stuff?!  Will I someday be a walking source of medical knowledge?  Thank you for sharing your recent findings with us, as surprising as they may be.  :)

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