Research conducted by a team at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta suggests that follicle-stimulating hormone may be involved in decreasing bone mineral density during menopause. The level of FSH gradually increases in the five years leading up to menopause, when it reaches its peak and estradiol bottoms out. Research has indicated that bone density begins to decrease over the same period of time.
To test their hypothesis, the researchers conducted a study of 36 women between 20 to 50 years old. By measuring each womans level of FSH and then using a low-energy x-ray to analyze her bone density, the researchers saw that higher levels of FSH among the women were indeed associated with lower bone density.
Through further analysis, the researchers were able to confirm that blood FSH levels corresponded to blood levels of IL-1b, or interleukin-1 beta, a cytokine known to activate osteoclasts. This suggests that both inside and outside the body, FSH stimulation of monocytes results in the production of IL-1b.