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Our gut microbiome may have a role to play in our bone health and ward off the risk of osteoporosis and fractures, suggests a study. The findings, published in Frontiers in Endocrinology, could one day provide the opportunity to alter gut microbiomes to achieve better bone health, as scientists learn more about "osteomicrobiology" -- a new term recently used to characterise this relationship.
A team from Hebrew SeniorLife and Hinda and Arthur Marcus Institute for Aging Research in the US conducted a study of older men to determine whether they could find a potentially modifiable factor contributing to skeletal health. They used high-resolution imaging of the arm and leg.
This is significant because low bone density increases the risk of developing osteoporosis, affecting millions of people worldwide over the age of 50, and can increase the risk of fractures. The team found that bacteria called Akkermansia, which has been associated with obesity, and Clostridiales bacterium DTU089, had negative associations with bone health for older adults.
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DTU089, a bacterium from the class Clostridia, has been described to be more abundant in people with lower physical activity, and lower protein intake. It could be significant because prior studies have found protein intake and physical activity have a definite connection to skeletal health.
"We found patterns in which greater abundance of microbiota were associated with worse measures of bone density and microarchitecture. In fact, some bacteria were associated with differences in the bone cross sectional area, suggesting the possibility that certain microbes could influence how the bone changes size with ageing," said Douglas P. Kiel, Senior Scientist at the Marcus Institute.
"It is premature to know if the bacterial organisms themselves may have effects on skeletal health," he added. The team proposed additional studies to gain insights regarding associations between specific bacterial species in the intestine and skeletal integrity.
They also hope to identify specific functional pathways influenced by the bacteria that could influence the skeleton." "For example, some bacteria can lead to low levels of inflammation that may affect bone health. Ultimately, if findings like this are confirmed, we may be able to target the gut microbiome to influence skeletal health," Kiel said.
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