Treatment with a friendly bacterium that is widely used in probiotic supplements can boost bones, research shows.
Lactobacillyus rhamnosus GG (LGG) Bug-fed healthy mice experienced an immune response and increased bone density.
This effect is related to butyric acid or butyric acid.
This in turn activated regulatory T cells that are part of the immune system.
Scientists expect the findings will lead to a new path to treatment of brittle bone disease and osteoporosis.
A condition that presents a significant risk to postmenopausal women can prevent fractures and increase the risk of death.
Previous studies on animals have suggested that probiotics can help prevent disease-related bone loss, but scientists have not made clear the reason.
Professor Roberto Pacifici of Emory University, who led the new study, said: "Since the mechanism of action in the bones is unknown, it can not be considered an alternative and is considered a secret, unproven therapy.
"Our goal was to identify the biological mechanism of probiotics, a mechanism that was understandable to traditional scientists, hoping that probiotics could become mainstream."
The team found that 4 weeks of LGG supplementation in rats stimulated the growth of intestinal bacteria causing eutrophication, which promoted bone formation.
LGG showed that when mice were raised in a live-free environment, they did not affect the mass of the bones and work with other worms.
Both LGG and butyrate induced the expansion of myeloid regulatory T cells.
T cells, in turn, secrete a protein called Wnt10b, which is known to be critical to bone development.
"We were amazed at the efficacy of intestinal microorganisms (bacterial populations) and the complexity of the mechanism of action of probiotics when controlling bone," Pacifici said.
"In general, there is a lot of interest in the idea that intestinal bacteria control the function of distant organs. Little is known about how this happens.
"We described the detailed mechanisms by which the constitutive changes in the intestinal microbiome induced by probiotics affect distant systems such as the skeleton."
Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG is widely marketed as a generic drug. It helps to balance the immune system and prevent allergy and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and prevent infection. Some argue that it has anti-cancer effect.
The team is now planning to expand the study and investigate whether butyrate supplements can help fight osteoporosis.
"Our findings need to be validated in human studies," says Pashipi.
"If successful, this study can be proven by a new, safe and cheap treatment of probiotics, which can optimize the skeletal development of young people and prevent osteoporosis in the elderly."
– The Press Association