Our gut microbiome could hold the key to maintaining good bone health and reducing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures, according to a recent study published in Frontiers in Endocrinology. This study sheds light on the emerging field of “osteomicrobiology” which explores the relationship between our gut bacteria and skeletal health.
The research, conducted by Hebrew SeniorLife and Hinda and Arthur Marcus Institute for Aging Research in the US, focused on older men to identify factors that could contribute to skeletal health. Using high-resolution imaging of the arm and leg, the team found that certain bacteria had negative associations with bone health in older adults.
Specifically, the bacteria Akkermansia, which has been linked to obesity, and Clostridiales bacterium DTU089 were found to be associated with poorer bone density and microarchitecture. Interestingly, DTU089 has been observed to be more prevalent in individuals with lower physical activity and protein intake, both of which have been previously shown to be connected to skeletal health.
“While it is premature to conclude that the bacterial organisms themselves directly affect skeletal health, our findings suggest that there could be a relationship between certain gut microbes and bone health,” said Douglas P. Kiel, Senior Scientist at the Marcus Institute. He further stated that certain bacteria may influence how bones change in size as we age.
The study’s findings open up the possibility of targeting the gut microbiome to improve skeletal health. By identifying specific bacterial species and functional pathways that impact the skeleton, researchers hope to understand how inflammation and other factors play a role in bone health.
“By targeting the gut microbiome, we may be able to influence skeletal health and potentially reduce the risk of osteoporosis and fractures,” Kiel added.
Further studies are needed to explore the associations between specific bacterial species in the gut and skeletal integrity. If confirmed, these findings could pave the way for personalized interventions to optimize gut health and promote better bone health as we age.
With millions of people worldwide affected by osteoporosis and at risk of fractures, understanding the relationship between our gut microbiome and skeletal health could have significant implications for preventative and therapeutic strategies in the future.