Treatment with friendly bacteria widely used in probiotic supplements can strengthen bones, a study has found.
Healthy mice fed Lactobacillyus rhamnosus GG (LGG) bugs experienced an immune response that stimulated an increase in bone density.
The effect was linked to the generation of butyrate, or butyric acid – a type of fatty acid produced by gut bacteria.
This in turn activated regulatory T-cells, part of the immune system.
If successful, this research could substantiate the use of butyrate or probiotics as a novel, safe, and inexpensive treatment for optimising skeletal development in young people and to prevent osteoporosis in older people
Scientists hope the discovery will lead to new ways of treating the brittle bone disease osteoporosis.
The condition, a major hazard for women after the menopause, can lead to disabling bone fractures and an increased risk of death.
Previous research on animals had suggested that probiotics could help prevent disease-related bone loss, but scientists were unclear why.