Gut microbes can influence bone strength and osteoporosis

Posted Jan 22, 2021 by Tim Sandle
New research finds that the composition of gut microbes transferred from mother to child influences how the skeleton of a child develops. This presents an important step in understanding the influence of the microbiome on health.
A complete albino skeleton is said to be worth as much as $75 000  according to the Red Cross
A complete albino skeleton is said to be worth as much as $75,000, according to the Red Cross
Johan Ordonez, AFP
The new research is based on an animal model. In a series of experiments, microbiologists established that the microbes passed on from female mice to their offspring, or the microbes shared between mice that live together, has a significant influence upon the skeleton. This was assessed by measuring the bone mass of the mice.
While many aspects of the human skeleton and the way it develops are genetic, the research indicates that certain bacteria can exert an influence, especially where there is an over-abundance of less beneficial organisms. In particular, the researchers pinpointed that segmented filamentous bacteria, a gut microbe that induces intestinal Th17 cell expansion, is sufficient to negatively impact upon the process of skeletal maturation.
The research adds further to the body of evidence about the contribution that the human microbiome plays in shaping health and disease. The human body is an intricate system that hosts trillions of microbial cells across the epithelial surface, and within the mouth and gut.
The importance of the findings is that they could lead to the foundation of new treatments to address bone conditions (such as bacteriotherapeutic interventions, recently covered by Digital Journal). For example, the use of probiotics to alter the gut microbiome and hence improve bone structure. Furthermore, the research could lay the foundations for developing treatments for conditions that weaken bones, like osteoporosis (low bone mass caused by a reduced level of mineral deposits in bones).
The research has been published in the journal eLife, with the research paper titled "The gut microbiota is a transmissible determinant of skeletal maturation".