Scientists reveal how gut microbes can influence bone strength in mice

January 12, 2021

Gut microbes passed from female mice to their offspring, or shared between mice that live together, may influence the animals' bone mass, says a new study published today in eLife.

The findings suggest that treatments which alter the gut microbiome could help improve bone structure or treat conditions that weaken bones, such as osteoporosis.

"Genetics account for most of the variability in human bone density, but non-genetic factors such as gut microbes may also play a role," says lead author Abdul Malik Tyagi, Assistant Staff Scientist at the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism, and Lipids at Emory Microbiome Research Center, Emory University, Georgia, US. "We wanted to investigate the influence of the microbiome on skeletal growth and bone mass development."

To do this, Tyagi and colleagues studied mice that lacked any gut microbes. They transferred fecal material containing a gut microbe called segmented filamentous bacteria (SFB), which stimulates the breakdown of bone, into the animals. Their studies revealed that the offspring of the SFB-treated mice were colonised with these bacteria at birth and had poorer bone structure than identical mice that lacked SFB.

Additionally, mice that lived with others carrying SFB became colonised with the bacteria within four weeks, and developed poorer bone structure as a result. "Our work shows that microbes can be either inherited or transmitted between individuals and significantly affects skeletal development in the animals," Tyagi says.

"Further studies are now needed to determine if the same is true in humans," adds senior author Roberto Pacifici, Garland Herndon Professor of Medicine, and Director of the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism, and Lipids, at Emory University. "If it is, then it could be possible to develop therapies that change the gut microbiome early in life to allow for healthy skeletal growth.

"It would also suggest the need for caution in the current use of fecal transplants to treat other conditions in patients, to ensure that bone-weakening bacteria aren't inadvertently introduced," Pacifici concludes.
-end-
Reference

The paper 'The gut microbiota is a transmissible determinant of skeletal maturation' can be freely accessed online at https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.64237. Contents, including text, figures and data, are free to reuse under a CC BY 4.0 license.

Media contact

Emily Packer, Media Relations Manager
eLife
e.packer@elifesciences.org
01223 855373

About eLife

eLife is a non-profit organisation created by funders and led by researchers. Our mission is to accelerate discovery by operating a platform for research communication that encourages and recognises the most responsible behaviours. We work across three major areas: publishing, technology and research culture. We aim to publish work of the highest standards and importance in all areas of biology and medicine, while exploring creative new ways to improve how research is assessed and published. We also invest in open-source technology innovation to modernise the infrastructure for science publishing and improve online tools for sharing, using and interacting with new results. eLife receives financial support and strategic guidance from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, the Max Planck Society and Wellcome. Learn more at https://elifesciences.org/about.

To read the latest Medicine research published in eLife, visit https://elifesciences.org/subjects/medicine.

eLife

Related Bacteria Articles from Brightsurf:

Siblings can also differ from one another in bacteria
A research team from the University of Tübingen and the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF) is investigating how pathogens influence the immune response of their host with genetic variation.

How bacteria fertilize soya
Soya and clover have their very own fertiliser factories in their roots, where bacteria manufacture ammonium, which is crucial for plant growth.

Bacteria might help other bacteria to tolerate antibiotics better
A new paper by the Dynamical Systems Biology lab at UPF shows that the response by bacteria to antibiotics may depend on other species of bacteria they live with, in such a way that some bacteria may make others more tolerant to antibiotics.

Two-faced bacteria
The gut microbiome, which is a collection of numerous beneficial bacteria species, is key to our overall well-being and good health.

Microcensus in bacteria
Bacillus subtilis can determine proportions of different groups within a mixed population.

Right beneath the skin we all have the same bacteria
In the dermis skin layer, the same bacteria are found across age and gender.

Bacteria must be 'stressed out' to divide
Bacterial cell division is controlled by both enzymatic activity and mechanical forces, which work together to control its timing and location, a new study from EPFL finds.

How bees live with bacteria
More than 90 percent of all bee species are not organized in colonies, but fight their way through life alone.

The bacteria building your baby
Australian researchers have laid to rest a longstanding controversy: is the womb sterile?

Hopping bacteria
Scientists have long known that key models of bacterial movement in real-world conditions are flawed.

Read More: Bacteria News and Bacteria Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.