Microbiota Reconstitution Does Not Cause Bone Loss in Germ-Free Mice

Darin Quach, Fraser Collins, Narayanan Parameswaran, Laura McCabe, Robert A. Britton (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)
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Annually, an estimated 2 million osteoporotic fractures occur in the United States alone. Osteoporosis imparts a great burden on the health care system. The identification of novel regulators of bone health is critical for developing more effective therapeutics. A previous study on the colonization of germ-free (GF) mice with a microbial community has demonstrated that bacterial colonization dramatically increases bone loss. We therefore investigated the impact of multiple microbial communities in different mice to understand how generalizable the impact of bacterial colonization is on bone health. To investigate the impact of different microbial communities on bone health in outbred and inbred mouse strains, gavage was performed on GF Swiss Webster and GF C57BL/6 mice to introduce distinct microbiotas that originated from either humans or mice. GF mice displayed a high degree of colonization, as indicated by more than 90% of the operational taxonomic units present in the starting inoculum being successfully colonized in the mice when they were examined at the end of the experiment. In spite of the successful colonization of GF mice with gut microbiota of either mouse or human origin, bone mass did not change significantly in any of the groups tested. Furthermore, static and dynamic bone parameters and osteoclast precursor and T cell populations, as well as the expression of several inflammatory markers, were mostly unchanged following microbial colonization of GF mice. IMPORTANCE The microbiota has been shown to be an important regulator of health and development. With regard to its effect on bone health, a previous study has suggested that gut microbes negatively impact bone density. However, we show here that this is not generalizable to all microbial communities and mouse strain backgrounds. Our results demonstrate that colonization of mice, both outbred and inbred strains, did not have a major impact on bone health. The identification of microbial communities that do not negatively impact bone health may provide a foundation for future investigations that seek to identify microbes that are either beneficial or detrimental to bone metabolism.
Original languageEnglish
Article number00545-17
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jan 2018


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