Healthy gut microbiome associated with higher bone density in older adults

Healthy gut microbiome associated with higher bone density in older adults

Gut Microbiome and Skeletal Health: A Playful Look into the Fascinating Connection


Researchers have identified specific bacteria in the gut microbiome linked to skeletal health. The health of the gut microbiome affects a person’s overall well-being, and previous studies have shown its connection to bone density regulation and improvement of osteoporosis. Now, researchers from the Marcus Institute for Aging Research at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center have taken this knowledge a step further by identifying two particular types of bacteria, Akkermansia and Clostridiales bacterium DTU089, that are negatively associated with bone health in older adults.

The Marvelous Gut-Bone Axis: A Delicate Balance

The gut microbiome, comprising trillions of microorganisms like bacteria, fungi, and viruses, has been the focus of research in recent years due to its impact on overall health. From obesity and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) to type 2 diabetes and depression, the gut microbiome plays a crucial role. Moreover, studies have revealed its influence on bone health. For instance, a bacteria called Faecalibacterium prausnitzii in the gut microbiome has been linked to bone formation and the production of butyric acid, which regulates bone metabolism. Researchers believe that the gut-bone axis, the connection between the gut microbiome and bones, may hold the key to preventing bone loss and even reversing it.

The Curious Case of Akkermansia and Clostridiales Bacterium DTU089

To explore the relationship between the gut microbiome and bone density, scientists conducted an observational study using advanced imaging techniques on participants from the Framingham Third Generation Study and the Osteoporotic Fractures in Men (MrOS) study. The findings revealed that Akkermansia and Clostridiales bacterium DTU089 had negative associations with bone health in older adults. Interestingly, the DTU089 bacteria were found to be more abundant in people with lower physical activity and protein intake. Although the exact reasons for these bacteria affecting skeletal health are yet to be known, experts hypothesize that obesity, which is linked to Akkermansia abundance, and low physical activity may compromise skeletal integrity. Furthermore, the bacteria present in the gut can produce factors that increase inflammation, which can negatively impact bone cells.

Nurturing Bones through Synbiotics: A Gut-Based Approach

While the study has shed light on the association between specific gut bacteria and bone health, the question remains: Can this information be used to improve bone health? The researchers believe that their findings may ultimately lead to a modifiable factor contributing to bone health. Currently, the most common treatment for osteoporosis is medication. However, if approaches that preserve skeletal strength with aging can be identified, fewer individuals may develop osteoporosis, thereby reducing the need for drug treatment. Although it is not possible to make specific recommendations regarding the microbiome’s impact on bone health at this stage, the researchers are planning a study to test whether synbiotics, a combination of probiotics and prebiotics, can positively influence bone metabolism. If successful, synbiotics could be recommended by physicians as part of a dietary approach to maintaining bone health.

The Road to Longevity: Healthy Bones for a Vibrant Life

There is a fascinating link between bone health and longevity. The human body consists of 206 to 213 bones, and they play a vital role in supporting muscle function, providing structure, facilitating movement, protecting organs, and storing minerals like calcium. Collagen, protein, calcium, and other minerals make bones strong and give them a healthy density. Without adequate calcium, bones become fragile and weak, leading to conditions such as osteoporosis and back pain. Surprisingly, studies have found that healthy bones may contribute to a longer and more vibrant life. Individuals aged 90 and above in rural Arkansas exhibited a low prevalence of osteoporosis and bone fractures, potentially contributing to their longevity. In contrast, osteoporosis has been shown to decrease lifespan.

Gut Health: Targeted Treatment for Stronger Bones

Dr. Rosario Ligresti, chief of gastroenterology at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, found the study’s results fascinating. He explained that the gut microbiome’s link to bone health revolves around the immune system: certain microbiome profiles can trigger an immune system response that affects bone remodeling cells, leading to either positive or negative effects. The identification of specific bacterial species responsible for this link could pave the way for more targeted therapies to enhance bone health. Understanding this connection is crucial in the quest for healthier bones and a longer, more vibrant life.

In conclusion, the gut microbiome’s impact on skeletal health is a subject of growing interest and research. With the identification of Akkermansia and Clostridiales bacterium DTU089 as bacteria negatively associated with bone health, researchers are exploring the use of synbiotics to support bone metabolism. This newfound understanding offers hope for a future where personalized interventions through the gut microbiome can help preserve skeletal health and potentially reduce the prevalence of osteoporosis. So, let’s take care of our gut for strong, resilient bones and a vibrant life ahead!